Wired for Wham!


When I was little, I truly believed I had the potential to draw pictures. I would look at something, desire to draw it, then run and get some paper. In my head I could see no obstacle, no practical reason that I would not be able to draw that tree, house, or dog….I felt pretty sure I could do it.

I couldn’t.

I couldn’t even draw a cube. Everyone could draw a cube! Sure, I could draw it if someone showed me how. Then I could duplicate it again and again. Once I was given stroke by stroke instruction, I could practice and get real good at it, even. And I did eventually learn to draw an excellent box. It’s been a few years, so I absolutely know that I could NOT draw a box right now.

My husband, Dave, doesn’t believe me. I told him that if I practiced for the rest of the day, I would not be able to draw a picture of my coffee cup (that was sitting on the table at the time). He says anyone can draw. Yes, that’s true- if he showed me how to draw that cup, I could draw it again and again all on my own. But I couldn’t figure it out the first time without help. I asked him, “Could you have drawn a picture of that cup, without help, when you were five years old?” He said yes.

This is just one of a million ways my husband’s brain is wired differently than mine. I accept it. He is a good artist. It’s easy for him, because he was born that way. I could be taught, but I would always be amazed at the better artists of the world, because the basic skills I would struggle to achieve would be effortless to them. Like breathing. My husband cannot even wrap his mind around the fact that someone couldn’t draw something as simple as a cup. I get it. When I was small, I couldn’t wrap my mind around it either. (Sometimes, for just a second, I still think I could draw it.)

This forces me to think more about what effect our brain wiring has on our lives, who we are, and who our children will be because of it. It also gives me a small clue about the challenges of being wired differently than others. But all of us already are. We just don’t notice until we are alone in a group of people who all share different wiring. Like hanging out with a bunch of mathematicians when you never could pass Algebra. There’s a lesson about autism here, but that’s not where I’m going.  Continue reading