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  • Robin Kastengren

One thing about me is that...

... I'm one of the rare people in the US to have a medical diagnosis of gifted and talented.

I got this diagnosis in Kindergarten after failing the routine screening. I went to the place and did all their puzzles, and took a card back to school. There were two columns on the card. Column 1 was Autism (Boys) and Column 2 was Gifted & Talented (Girls).

My current medical coordinator was able to find it once we all stopped looking in my second grade records. I loved second grade and want to assign everything I love from childhood to that year for some reason lol

So I had pretty intensive speech therapy from Kindergarten until we moved in third grade. After that, my name disappears from the "special education" roster and they don't even use anything like that anymore. The only reason my name popped up on this one was because it was a pilot program to see if girls really could have autism and the remainder of my records from speech therapy went with this program, as agreed upon on the consent form my parents signed.

This is the reason I disappeared until I was 44:

We were sitting in the office at Glen Hill. My brother had something wrong with his vaccinations and they didn't have the records from the old school from my speech therapy, only the school record with a note saying "gifted and talented." My parents were presented with two options: gifted class or speech therapy. My dad said later that day, "Damnit Jeanne, she's not a r****d," and she said, "I trust you," and I said, "But dad, Mrs. Walters said I have to do the one for my special brain so I don't hurt it."

And they both looked at me and told me to shut up. And then my dad told me that there's nothing special about my brain because I look exactly how I sound. Whatever that meant.

Fast forward to yesterday: I got a card in the mail from my dad. This was an alarming event for me for several reasons. First, this is the first any of us in this house have heard from him in a couple-three years (Unless you count three birthday cards in October for all three kids last year).

Second, I sent my entire family individual notes last week asking them to leave me alone. Every last one of them is sending me into panic attacks so bad I can't speak for days. Third, the man is a monster and I've told him several times to leave me and my family alone. He thinks he gets to have access to me just because he created me and then dialed me in with calculated precision to be useless wreckage for him to laugh at until he dies, even if he looks like a jack-o-lantern and had the nerve to yell at ME about my teeth.

I've stopped trying to get help from my mom. All she's doing is asking me ten thousand questions about my doctors. I can't answer those. It takes too long and why can't you just trust me? I need help learning to talk. I need help with the laundry. I need help with a million things, but she has a paying job that's super important to her and her boss is a goon.

The problem is that they locked me in my head in third grade and then got to work telling me I was the problem. And then are bewildered as adults because I'm like a walking stone who can't ever seem to explain herself to their wretched, twisted satisfaction because I don't live like them. And when I want a little privacy, they don't understand things like "agency" and get to work like ants underground trying to pull my world out from underneath me because they don't have the guts to sit in the same room with me.

Not even at the saddest birthday party I've seen in 17 years. No guacamole. No gifts. No fun. Sizzling eyes, a refusal to parent one's toddler and forcing the responsibility on a 13-year-old autistic girl in crisis, and a last-minute gas station gift that even a 17 year old autistic boy can spot from a mile away and some trash from the floor of the car colored in with sharpie that I didn't point out to him because it would hurt his feelings. I told him today as I walked his birthday card from my dad back to the mailbox. I showed him how "return to sender" works and we put that fake ass gift in the trash next. He'll use the gas gift card tho.

And none of them will LEAVE ME ALONE until I explain to their wretched satisfaction that I'm fine. Which I quite literally cannot do and I refuse to go any further than that because I am an adult now, with agency and the ability to hire my own doctors and speech therapists for my kids as I see fit. I'm allowed to walk around in my house and talk to myself even if that makes you get the willies. I've been trying to tell them all since September that I think I'm dying. I used the words "I think I'm dying" so so many times and the reply was along the lines of not being so dramatic all the time.

And to the unicorn* who texted me yesterday, I know I'm not supposed to still feel bad, but I do. The kids made me a Phone Jail and when my phone is in it, it means I need a minute because there are no good listeners around for my problems and I'm pouting about that.

Eric also reminded me of the "return to sender" process so I don't have to go full Chuck McGill and walk around holding my mail with kitchen tongs.

Unicorn: someone who I am related to in any way and still trust.

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