Do Not Try This At Home

The behaviour started in earnest when I was six.  As soon as I could hold tools properly I started to take things apart.  To strip objects and lay their insides out before me in order of size and usefulness.  The pleasure I got from this and the urge to do it was insatiable.  Although I had learned the rudimentary skills of dismantling and stripping, the more complex reassembly and getting things to work again were of little interest. This is where the problems started.  It became clear that the drive to discover the internal workings of objects was stronger than my appreciation of who said object belonged to.

My new obsession was becoming a real concern to my family and my exploratory electronic surgery was soon to come to an abrupt halt.  My mother had just turned on the food mixer in the kitchen, when all of a sudden three things happened simultaneously that indicated something bad had happened.

Firstly, the food mixer and lights in the kitchen stopped working; secondly, there was a loud bang accompanied by a puff of smoke; thirdly, I could be seen from the kitchen doorway flying backwards across the lounge floor.

My father had told me several times that electricity had teeth.  I thought he had gone slightly mad as there was no possible way that that sentence made any sense no matter how hard I tried to understand it, now through, I knew I had just got bitten.

Dazed, shocked and trying to assess just how loudly I needed to scream to express the scale of what had just happened, I started to cry.  My mother rushed in and scooped me up with concern and anger in equal measure.

“You Silly Boy! What on earth have you done?”

With that she turned to see exactly what I had done.  Which was to wire a single loop of electric cable in on itself and then wired that loop into a plug and then, turn said plug on.  Resulting in the three simultaneous events, as well as all the shouting and the scooping.

Once the smoke, shock and my mothers anger had lifted, I was left promising that I would not touch another thing without asking first.  Not ever wanting to be bitten again I agreed.  Although in my own mind, I had only agreed to not taking apart anything that was, or could be plugged in, that in my mind was all I had agreed to.

That night, having received a phone call from my mother about the days events, my father arrived home carrying a box.  He made me promise not to take things apart without checking with him first.  He said that if I did that he would bring me home things to take apart.  I agreed and with that he gave me the box.

Quite a large box for a 6 year old and very heavy.  When I opened it my eyes widened, I smiled at the amazing object with all its screws, bolts, dials, cable, slots and switches.  I lifted my head.

“What is it?”

“A gas meter,” my father said.

“Oooohhhh,” I replied, with no idea what that was.  I just smiled, wishing I’d got bitten sooner.


© Paul C Siebenthal April 2013

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.