I'll start at the beginning.

When I was just a baby, my mother was taking college classes to learn ASL, or American Sign Language. She was determined that I would know it, so she immersed me in a world of both visual and audio cues. By my first birthday, I didn't cry for something.

By two and a half, I knew over forty signs. By then, my verbal vocabulary had surpassed my ASL, but both were still very good.

But at three years old, I began to change.

It was a slow process at first, my shying away from everyone, including my parents. I still seemed friendly enough, though, so I got away with it.

But at the same time, I was teaching myself to read.

At three years old, I could already read the Berenstain Bears to myself. In preschool, when the other kids wanted a story read to them, the teachers let me do it. My favorite involved Blue, from Blue's Clues, getting ready for bed.

At four, my memory started to work in an almost magical way. For example, I still remember one very funny story.

It was my brother's birthday, mid-August. My mom had no clue what to get him, so around noon(and I distinctly remember seeing the clock at around 11:36) we drove down the highway to the town's bike shop. Mom bought him a single pair of gloves, black ones with no fingers. I've never paid attention to brand names, though, so I don't know that for sure.

On the way home, as we were about to pass the day care, Mom suddenly told me that my brother had that exact pair of gloves. But it was too late to turn around, so we just continued home.

As it turns out, he did have that exact same pair, but they were at least a year old and kind of junky. He was plenty glad to have new ones.

These kinds of things continued to happen. But then comes the story of how I tried to skip school in kindergarten because of finger painting.

You read that right.

Why, do you ask, would a four-year-old hate finger painting? Let me explain.

I've always been very hypersensitive to touch. So any sort of tactile experience could make me cry. Paint on my hands? That was automatic torture.

So my mom arranged for me to be allowed to use a paintbrush after I had cried for half an hour and made myself sick.

Simple solution, right? The solution had never crossed my mind. I had shut down all rational thinking the minute I learned we were finger painting.

You may now laugh at me. Go ahead. I know you want to. But please remember that I was extremely different back then. And even now, we've just found out about autism.

I'm ready to laugh at it myself.