Title: I Am Snamuh
Subtitle: My Journey With Asperger's and the Power It Gave Me
Author: Laura Nadine
Length: 194 pages
Finalist for: Favorite New Special-Needs Memoir
Message from the Author: "I Am Snamuh is a memoir of growing up with Asperger's, undiagnosed. My story is told through enlightened eyes, looking back on my history after a diagnosis, to help share with others the struggles of Asperger's. I Am Snamuh pulls the reader through the turmoil to the humor on the other side, showing the strength I gained from understanding autism. Healing comes when one can look back with gratitude, accomplishment and a little humor."
Excerpt from I Am Snamuh:
Test taking was always an interesting endeavor in school. We had our standard tests every year, like the ITBS, but the schools were not yet plagued with the immense volume of testing they have now, at least not in my elementary school. I remember taking one test in particular that asked a series of asinine questions regarding things like which opposable thumb was shown in the goofy little sketch. These questions were usually followed by answers presented in a multiple choice format, as if kids were too stupid to formulate their own response. One school day, at the crack of dawn, I recall sitting in my desk at the left end of the row nearest the door. Just fifteen steps outside the door were the restrooms and a wall mounted water fountain that made a horrible vibration in regular intervals. We were all in test mode which is quiet and seated, with our number two pencils sharpened and ready. The teacher had been talking for a while about the test, not a word of which I heard. She told us to begin and then wound up that hideous egg timer which clicked out the seconds. As the egg timer clamored and knocked, it seemed to get louder each second. All I could think of was my Bobbymom's sand tart cookies that she made at Christmas using her egg timer. (Bobbymom is what I called my grandmother on my mother's side). This made me salivate with hunger. I tried to focus on the stupid little test, but I just couldn't switch my mind's focus from the sand tarts I was now picturing in my head. Then I became thirsty. I raised my hand and my teacher walked over to my desk.
"I am thirsty and I need a drink of water." I said to her.
Annoyed the teacher answered "I asked if anyone needed water before we began. Now it is too late. You will have to wait until the next testing break."
I didn't know how to respond. Was I supposed to time my thirst mechanism to coincide with the testing schedule? The test was a temporary change to our schedule and on any other morning, I would have been allowed to get water. I too became annoyed but I was obedient of my teacher and continued trying to focus on the test.
The next question had a drawing of a water glass, filled half way with liquid. The question stated "Describe the water glass." What the hell did that mean? For the life of me I could not figure out why anyone would care what I thought about the water glass. No one cared what I thought about the Bermuda triangle, or aliens or how to properly instruct a class for that matter, but the condition of a water glass was somehow important. I certainly didn't care about the water glass. ll I knew was that I was thirsty and the water fountain that was a mere fifteen steps away from me, humming away in the hallway, was inaccessible because I had missed my opportunity to drink from it. With increasing frustration I scanned the multiple choice answers; A) half-empty or B) half-full. What? Only two choices? From my perspective the glass was full, half of it occupied with water and the other half of it occupied with air. Did air not have mass and take up space? Why was I being subjected to this torture? All they really wanted to know is what political party I would grow up to join, so the choices should have read; A) Republican or B) Democrat. My dilemma was increasing in intensity, like an earthquake on the Richter scale. I was vibrating with frustration, my thirst mechanism was engaged, my Bobbymom was in Florida so I couldn't get any sand tarts until Christmas, the water fountain was humming and might as well have been in Fiji, and now I was forced to ignore the laws of physics just to answer a question that the school felt was more effective if delivered with a clicking egg timer. I looked up at the teacher who was doodling on a piece of paper. She broke the silence with a sharply toned "Five more minutes." Crap! Now I had to answer twenty more of these millennium prize problems in only five minutes. How long is five minutes? How long had we been sitting there? I looked at my exam sheet and noticed that all the questions in this section only had two choices despite there being four little circles to fill in on the fancy new computer bubble sheet. I used the first five questions to discern a pattern ratio for "A" choices versus "B" choices. I quickly applied my pattern to the answer sheet and filled in the remaining circles. This became my lifelong test taking technique for all my school standardized tests.
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