It has always bothered me that I am an A student who always got B’s. The reason why I lost marks in school often had absolutely nothing to do with whether I knew the answer or not. It had to do with how well I expressed myself, which is something that many Aspies struggle with, and something I struggle with today. It also is definitely not solely confined to the classroom either. I have lost friends, jobs, romantic opportunities because I struggle with how I express myself.
It is completely infuriating and makes me want to scream that I lost marks on exams because of the legibility of my hand-writing. Teachers would think that it was fair that they dock marks or half marks because they had a hard time reading my writing and if they had to work harder they felt it was only fair that they reduce my mark because of it. Do you know how much this makes me want to scream. I could argue how legibility of hand-writing isn’t very important in this day and age and plenty of people get by with atrocious hand-writing. There is a joke that has some merit that doctor’s notes to pharmcists look like the dog’s breakfast. That any important document in this day and age people type. That the advancement of computers and how cheap they have becomes makes quality penmanship all but obsolete. I am not making that argument even though I would have been fine with that argument when tasked with observing elementary school students working on their hand-writing skills while student teaching. If things progress the way they are there is a good chance that penmanship will be even less important in the future. It is possible that all students in the first world will be doing all note taking and examination using laptops. This may or may not be the case, I am not going to try and predict the future, or whether this is already happening in many schools in North America. It is especially likely that this is already the case in many university classrooms in North America. I am not going to make any bold predictions about this, however, because I really don’t know. I have always been useless at predicting the future. Especially when it comes to people’s actions or behavior. Once again, that has to do with my Aspergers and the fact that I have a hard time reading body language, therefore, I have an especially hard time figuring out what other people are thinking as I am not reading the clues fast enough. Therefore, I make far too many foolish decisions, just ask anyone who I am or used to be friends with.
I am not going to make the argument that penmanship has become all but obsolete, because, I still use handwriting a fair bit and I can’t see this ever changing. I am extremely scatterbrained, I have a hard time paying attention to detail. Another place where I lost a lot of my marks as a student. Anyone reading my writing before it goes through a dozen hands of people editing it can attest to this. It’s sad because each time of my voice is lost, but, it is the cost that needs to be paid in order to have something that anyone else can read or would want to read. Therefore, if every student was assigned a laptop to do all their work on, I would end up forgetting it at home or at school just the way that I ended up leaving important textbooks at home or at school. Therefore, I still scribble notes on anything I can get my hands on, knowing that anything that I scribble, other than phone numbers, there is a good chance that I will remember. I am not bragging, I am merely pointing out that the brain learns how to adjust to make up for some of our shortcomings to the best of it’s ability. The blind develop excellent hearing. As such I have developed an incredibly memory that sometimes throws in my face that I lost marks and as a result, scholarships, as a result of my disability. How can you pay attention to detail when at every moment, your brain is unable to censor out thousands of other details that you are taking in such as the fact that the casing of my computer is black. I am aware of this, yet, I keep noticing it out of the corner of my eye as in, yep it didn’t change colors because that is not something computers do. This ability may have been useful a thousand years ago, but, is a burden when trying to write anything in the modern world. It’s a challenge right now, and it was a challenge in the classroom when I was a student. I also have to use my handwriting when taking down queries while on the phone at work. Then I am supposed to pass on these queries to someone else to work on. My shorthand is fine, if I am there to explain to someone else what I have written, but, this is not always possible as they may be away from the desk when I have to hand it on before assisting another patron, going to a different part of the library or going on break. On a recent annual report of my work my supervisor said I was a good employee except for when it came to taking down queries at the phone. This is the adult world equivalent of losing marks once again, for the same problem. There are different words for the same things, I am no longer not going scholarships I am not getting promotions. Tomato, tomato.
Therefore, I am not frustrated about having lost marks, because, penmanship is not important. What bothers me the most, is that this is not something I ever just shrugged my head at. No, this is something that I worked hard at for many years with a physical therapist in a children’s rehabilitation center. I spent what now probably equals hours working on my fine motor skills doing exercises where I simply crossed x’s and made o’s, among other exercises in order to strengthen the muscles in my fingers so that I was better able to hold a pencil so that my writing would readable.
Another way that I and other Aspies have a hard time communicating is that we never use the right words. We have a hard time adjusting to the proper decorum of a situation. For instance, we will use too formal language in social situations so that we come off stiff, and in work or classroom situations we come across as too informal. This obviously came across in my writing, as more than one professor has commented on it to me. They said things I simply cannot give you an A even though your answer was technically correct because you didn’t use the right kind of language. What he meant by that, probably, if I can interpret what he was trying to say is that my words didn’t flow smoothly and they came across disjointed. Do you know where I hear that, that I sound disjointed, stiff or wooden? In social situations. People seldom use these words, they will talk more about how our conversations just have no flow, but, this was the assessment of my social skills when I consulted a relationship advice columnist who just happens to be my friend’s mom. I wanted to know why I had such a hard time romantically, when people who seemed like real losers; people who would cheat on their significant other; act physically violent towards them; spend all their money gambling and live in their parents basements well into their late thirties, were having much more romantic success than I was.
I had a bad dream where I was back in the classroom, and was losing marks meaninglessly, like a quarter mark off for my handwriting, and only got eight out of ten on a test in a theater class, last night and woke up and felt compelled to write this about it. You know to seek some kind of closure, like that it is meaningless to worry about marks, but, now that I am done it still really bothers me. Marks are important, they are a deciding factor where you end up in life, what university program you get into or whether or not you get that promotion. It’s not the same for the arts, but, between you and me, I still have no clue how that works how or what decides who ends up where. I do know that having challenges communicating definitely plays a large role in any area of life that you can think of.