All is Mere – Introduction and Table of Contents

Introduction

All is Mere is a fictional account of a world where most of an American generation developed Autism Spectrum Disorders.  The reasons and ramifications are slowly explained throughout in the story, so don’t worry if it seems a bit confusing at first since it should make sense by the end (if it doesn’t, please leave a comment).  The story is told from the perspective of a high school sophomore who, like most people he knows in his age group, has some form of high-functioning ASD. There are forty entries in his classroom journal, and this blog, covering the entire school year.

Disclaimers: No person with Asperger’s or any other type of Autism Spectrum Disorder is the same, so none of the characters in this story are or are intended to be perfect representations of the conditions.  Since this is hosted on a free blog, the story may be changed whenever the author feels like it should be (this introduction, for example, has been changed approximately fifty times and will probably changed another hundred).  The distribution of people along the autism spectrum in the story is made up and does not reflect the distribution in the real world; the story has a 1 to 4 ratio between lower functioning and higher functioning/Aspergers while the real world is much more towards the more severe end.

Please leave any comments on the story in this post.  More information can be found on the “About” page.

Dedicated to those who had to listen to my rants, as a high school sophomore or otherwise.  I am so sorry.

Table of Contents

Entry #1 – September 8, 2015

Entry #2 – September 14, 2015

Entry #3 – September 21, 2015

Entry #4 – September 28, 2015

Entry #5 – October 5, 2015

Entry #6 – October 12, 2015

Entry #7 – October 19, 2015

Entry #8 – October 26, 2015

Entry #9 – November 2, 2015

Entry #10 – November 9, 2015

Entry #11 – November 16, 2015

Entry #12 – November 23, 2015

Entry #13 – November 30, 2015

Entry #14 – December 7, 2015

Entry #15 – December 14, 2015

Entry #16 – December 21, 2015

Entry #17 – January 4, 2016

Entry #18 – January 11, 2016

Entry #19 – January 18, 2016

Entry #20 – January 25, 2016

Entry #21 – February 1, 2016

Entry #22 – February 8, 2016

Entry #23 – February 15, 2016

Entry #24 – February 22, 2016

Entry #25 – February 29, 2016

Entry #26 – March 7, 2016

Entry #27 – March 14, 2016

Entry #28 – March 28, 2016

Entry #29 – April 4, 2016

Entry #30 – April 11, 2016

Entry #31 – April 18, 2016

Entry #32 – April 25, 2016

Entry #33 – May 2, 2016

Entry #34 – May 9, 2016

Entry #35 – May 16, 2016

Entry #36 – May 23, 2016

Entry #37 – May 31, 2016

Entry #38 – June 6, 2016

Entry #39 – June 13, 2016

Entry #40 – June 16, 2016

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Entry #21 – February 1, 2016

I’ve been thinking about the religion discussion I wrote about last week. The beginnings of most religions throughout history were to provide an overall explanation for how the universe worked. A creation myth explained how the world and universe were made, an explanation of how they worked that involved some sort of divine intervention, and stories were created to enhance the legitimacy that these were the correct interpretations that everyone else should follow. Almost everywhere people saw the natural world and provided higher explanation for how it must operate. This goes completely against my way of thinking, where I see things as just a combination of smaller things.

We’ve been studying pointillist painters in art class. All of their paintings are just a collection of small dots if you look close enough, but form a more coherent picture when you step back. Most people would think that the image you see when you step back is the most important part of the painting, but really the meaning is just a pattern of small dots of paint. I’m not saying that the end result isn’t important; I’m saying that it is vital that people be aware that it is just a combination of smaller parts. It isn’t just pointillism, every painting is a series of brushstrokes that add up to something more, every sculpture is a combination of carvings reducing a block of stone into something different. Music is a combination of notes in different pitches, rhythms, tempos, timbres, and textures, but it’s still made up of notes. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony can have a profound effect on you, but it’s just an orchestra playing a whole lot of notes. We can even see what the notes are because Beethoven wrote them down, including how fast you should be playing them when you start each movement. And we are merely made up of millions of tiny cells, which are in turn made up of tiny atoms just like everything else in the universe.

Again, I’m not trying to take away meaning from things. Objects made out of the same building blocks can still be completely different. What I am saying is that, whether it’s religion, philosophy, history, or any other discipline there is a tendency to only look at the larger picture. But like pointillist paintings, the bigger picture is made up of a lot of smaller pieces. Regardless of what you think of them or how they affect you, paintings are merely patterns of paint, pieces of music are merely patterns of notes, people are merely patterns of cells, society is merely individual people, religions are merely a set of individual beliefs, and nearly everything from the laptop I’m typing on to the food we eat to the houses we live in to the entire seven seas to whole planets and solar system and galaxies are made up of atoms that are themselves patterns of protons, electrons, and usually neutrons. In the end, the world doesn’t seem to me like there’s less meaning. It feels like there’s so much, sometimes too much, more.

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Entry #15 – December 14, 2015

Christmas is coming soon, which means everyone is expecting gifts. I can barely figure out what I want for presents, much less what other people want from me. I settled this with my parents for the last few years by asking them to tell me what they want for Christmas as a pre-Christmas gift. So I’m going to get my mother seat covers for her car and my father electric gloves. Luckily, we give the rest of our relatives’ gifts as a family, so I don’t technically have to be involved. For the rest of my gifts, I was going to ask for a game console, but I figured that was too expensive. So I just asked for some games and gift cards for future purchases. Gift card aren’t the most unique thing to get someone, but at least it has more of a personal touch than just giving them cash.

I wonder that by not coming up with gifts for them it makes my parents think I don’t care about them. This is especially important for my father, because he grew up giving and receiving a certain level of affectionate signals. Greetings, small facial gestures, thinking of gifts; what does he think I think about him if I don’t do those things? He may be able to read my face better than most people, but I’m not very expressive to begin with. And if I’m ever in a relationship with someone, how are they going to feel like I’m committed to them and want to be with them? If they’re like me, they won’t like that, or constant greetings, or be able to tell what my face is expressing. Some people even have touch sensitivity so badly that don’t want to be hugged or even touched in any way. How can you show someone like us you care without repeating it over and over until it loses all meaning? Unfortunately, I have no idea.

Kat and Mark also decided to use my idea for giving gift ideas with their parents, although Mark calls it his birthday present instead of an early Christmas gift since he was born on December 8th. Paul thinks we’re all ruining the spirit of Christmas or something. I don’t recall the actual spirit of Christmas entirely revolving around gift giving, although three of them are a small part of the original story. I do remember being a kid and being so excited I was unable to sleep Christmas night because I couldn’t wait to see what was in all those wrapped boxes in the morning. But all of those toys and clothes are now either given away, thrown out, or sitting in the attic somewhere. People make these goods, other transport them, and more work at stores that sell them. I just find it a shame that they’re work is going in large part towards the need for people to exchange gifts in order to show that they care for one another. But since I haven’t thought of a better way to show affection, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.

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Entry #7 – October 19, 2015

My mother and I went to the department store to buy clothes on Saturday. Not so much exciting as incredibly irritating for both of us. At least when I stop growing soon I won’t have to buy as many new clothes. I’m big enough to wear some of my father’s old shirts, but they’re incredibly uncomfortable. They all have tags, and even when you try and cut the tags off there’s still a bit of it left that tends to feel like its jabbing right into your neck. And some of the shirts have buttons, which means I have to get a T-shirt to wear under them anyway because they bother me, and most are long-sleeved which sometimes makes my arms feel like they’re suffocating. At least his pants mostly fit me and are comfortable, Mark has the same problems with full-length pants that I do with long sleeves. The problem with that is that I can wear a loose coat to cover my arms in the winter, but he has to wear large bulky snow pants through most of the fall and into the spring. My mother mostly has issues with certain fabrics; she can’t stand wearing anything made with wool for example. At least I don’t have their problems too.

To be honest, the whole shopping experience was exhausting. First, you have to find the section your clothes are in, then you have to see if you can find clothes that might fit you, then you have to try them on to see if they do. Since clothes don’t come in every size, they are never going to fit perfectly. For example, if you have a 33-inch waist, do you get 32-inch or 34-inch pants? I suppose you could get the 34-inch ones and have the waist adjusted, but then the rest of the upper section of the pants is still designed for person with a larger waist. And then there’s the fact that even when they are the same brand and size sometimes clothes have slight differences, so even when you find one that fits you still have to try on others that should be exactly the same but aren’t.

So the entire process is trying on one ill-fitting piece of clothing after another, which must be a pain normally but is even more so when you have touch sensitivities. At least shirts aren’t made with loose tags anymore. Luckily, I was able to find three shirts and a couple of pairs of pants, and they’ll hopefully last me for at least a year. My mother also found what she was looking for, so she took our clothes to the checkout computer and we were finally able to leave. In case you were wondering, yes my parents buy my clothes. For one thing, I don’t have a job so I don’t have much money outside of Christmas and birthday gifts. But more importantly, if they didn’t pay for the clothes I’d just keep wearing the ones I own even as they stop fitting just so I don’t have to go through this process again.

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Entry #4 – September 28, 2015

Since you told Mark that apparently he can’t just write about astronomy, I’ll continue to try and do these journals as previous instructed. As you probably heard, one of the sophomores had our first meltdown case on Thursday. We were in the working half of math class, and he apparently reached a problem that he couldn’t solve. Since I remember him always being good at math it isn’t surprising he was annoyed, but I don’t know what single problem could make him that irritated. More likely it was a combination of other things happening in his life got to him and eventually he just exploded. It doesn’t help when you’re trying to answer hard questions while the teacher is talking with another student in the background. I know a major part of the working period is for teachers to answer questions from students having problems, but it still disrupts our concentration for some of us. In any event, the teacher got his therapist and they took him to the safe room and he came back a few minutes later after he had calmed down. You’ve been working here long enough to know that this probably isn’t going to be the last meltdown of the semester.

I’ve had two meltdowns at school in my life. The first was in second grade when a third grader was making fun of me, or at least I thought he was making fun of me, during lunch. I lost control and started screaming and threw my lunch tray at him. Then I went to the garbage container and tried to throw that at him too, but I couldn’t lift it. Eventually I was taken to the safe room, and then had to go to the principal’s office in order to answer for throwing the tray. Both the third grader and I got a talking too and warnings, but no punishments were handed out.

The second meltdown was in fifth grade. It was at the end of the day in class right after gym. I was already tired from working all day before gym, and then while running laps I tripped and fell. My knee was badly scraped so I had to go to the nurses’ office. So I wasn’t in a good mood before returning to class and sitting (and mostly daydreaming) through the day’s final lecture section. Then during the last working section I overheard some kids making comments about my fall, and I completely lost it. I started crying uncontrollably and, like clockwork, it was off to the safe room where I stayed until the end of the day. Going to school the next day was embarrassing, but at least I didn’t scream or throw things that time. Luckily, I haven’t had a meltdown at school since. Quite a few of the kids here have never had a meltdown during class, but enough of us have have that I’m glad that we have protocols in place to make sure they go as well as can be expected.

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