Show and tell.
After turning the handle just enough to begin to open the door, I paused, pushed my index fingers into my ears and nudged the door open with my shoulder. As I entered Mrs Newman’s shop the sprung brass bell above the door was still audible but now at least, bearable. With the large glass sweet containers behind the counter and racks of goodies, the shop always smelt like cotton candy tasted. A smell completely at odds with Mrs Newman’s temperament.
I placed a pack of strawberry bubble gum on the counter next to my fifty pence piece. With shoulders only slightly taller than the counter I made a point of standing with arms crossed atop it, to highlight the ever increasing viewpoint from which I now looked upon the world.
Mrs Newman placed her finger on top of my fifty pence piece, and was starting to slid it off the counter towards her open cupped hand, as the screaming started. A women behind me dropped her loaf of bread where she stood and ran the short distance out the door.
As the bell over the door rang out, I was trying to work out what had just happened, when Mrs Newman started screaming. She then pointed at the floor, and shouted, “Snake!” I looked down, and there at my feet, was a slow worm. I reached down, picked it up and put it in my pocket with the all the others I’d collected that morning.
I started trying to explain to her the error she’d made, how that despite it being understandable, clearly this was not a snake. Mrs Newman was now reaching for the phone. I walked back to the counter determined to tell her everything I knew about slow worms. To start with I told her their latin name, Anguis Fragilis. From my pocket I took out the biggest slow worm in order to show her the little marks on the belly where in their evolutionary past they’d possessed legs. Slow worms I told her, were in fact, a legless lizard. I told her how unlike snakes they had eyelids and scales that did not overlap. I was trying to explain their evolution as she shouted down the phone for my mother to come and remove me from her shop. While waiting the short time for my mother to arrive, I was beginning to think that perhaps Mrs Newman wasn’t interested in slow worms and clearly didn’t care much for snakes either. I felt pleased though, for at least now, she’d be able to tell the difference.
Paul C Siebenthal is a 38 year-old Aspie who was diagnosed at 25. Started blogging and tweeting last year as Aspienaut, working for NASA (New Autism Spectrum Awareness). He is passionate about creativity and helping young people on the spectrum to see just how amazing they are and how great it can be to be Wired Differently.