Personal Narrative-A story about cats and autism

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Emily on 12-11-2012

Cats make me happy. I don’t own any cats (my landlord doesn’t allow pets), but I am going to have a cat in the future. If and when I get married, my husband must love cats. When we are dating, if he thinks they’re just ok, or he detests them, we probably won’t have very many dates in the future. Yes, I’m obsessed with cats.

I have seen the musical Cats  twice, the first time in Des Moines during a February blizzard. I love cats. I love it that they are everywhere, whether they are real cats, cats in books, cartoon cats, cats on slippers, cats on pajamas, cat calendars, cats on tv, cats in movies, cats in plays or in mewsicals. Meow! Here are some famous cats: Garfield, Hobbes, Tom Kitten, Moppet, Mittens, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser, Mooch (from the comic strip Mutts), Hello Kitty, the Cat in the Hat.

My love of cats began when I was in second grade. I drew them in the margins of my homework assignments. Today, when professors pass around the attendance sheet, I often sign my name with a cat next to it. It’s kind of like my trademark. I don’t mind standing out in this way; I think the cats add whimsy to an otherwise ho-hum list of signatures.

The reasons I love cats are many. I love it when they curl themselves into a ball on your lap, kneed their paws into wherever they are about to sit down, tuck in their paws underneath their fuzzy tummies. I love kittens and their playfulness.

When I was in fourth grade, my mom made me a cat Halloween costume. I had fuzzy, velvety black ears with pink inside, fuzzy black little paws and a long fuzzy black tail. I loved it so much, I wore it in fifth grade, too. My classmates made fun of me, but I didn’t care. My need to embrace my catness trumped any of their opinions.

As I was going into middle school, my parents became concerned that I was too obsessed with cats. They were afraid that people would make fun of me if pretended to be a cat at school. This idea was way over my head-being succeptible to others’ criticisms. I felt that I was in two worlds-my own, and everyone else’s. There were times when it was easier to be in my own world-lots of anthropomphic creatures, a utopia of sorts. I gave objects voices. I still do. Today, it is more accurate to say that feel like I am in two places at once, with my feet on either side of both worlds.

While still puzzled by my cat-loving behavior, my mom stumbled upon an article talking about a young person with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. She thought that the person seemed, “just like Emily”. Soon after that, I started to get pulled out of class to work with a speech therapist. We had a lot of fun-I got to talk about cats, and write about Harry Potter. She was so nice, but I was mystified as to why I was there.

After I was officially diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in May of 2000, we were given answers to questions that had so long been asked. My parents’ concerns for me changed. There was a scary, new world that we were about to explore-special education, iep’s, accommodations, AEA specialists. My teachers in middle school were not prepared to face this world either. They didn’t seem to know much about autism.  The idea that a student could have an iep (individualized education plan) but still be in all regular education classes was completely foreign to them. I was the Martian among the Earthlings.

A few years ago, a book was written titled All Cats Have Asperger’s Syndrome. It was so cute! The book explains how many cat behaviors, such as prefering activities alone rather than in groups and having very particular eating habits, are similar to human behaviors in autism. I wonder if this is related to my love of cats. I’m not sure.

Well, it has been fun talking about cats and how it relates to my autism. Meow, purr! >”<

1 Comment So Far

Leona on 12 December, 2012 at 3:49 am #

I have Aspergers and I have 2 cats. One of them is mine. I talk to her a lot because she doesn’t judge me, she is a good listener. When I get home from work I usually need some alone time to relax and my cat usually comes to sit with me. Petting her relaxes me because it’s repetitive and it makes my cat purr, which makes me very happy. I hope you can get a cat of your own soon. You should look for the show Must Love Cats on Animal Planet on Saturdays. That show makes me feel less alone.