This was my world.

I’m one of the little white girls in the group photos below. From Kindergarten through fourth grade, I was in classes where white kids were the minority. I always thought that my social difficulties were because I was white. Maybe it was actually because I was a little Aspie…

My 1st grade photo with a bunch of kids - black and white
My 1st grade photo – I’m in the front row, third from the right

As the years went by, more and more white kids dropped out and went to other schools. This was during the early days of integration, the end of segregation, and a lot of white parents didn’t want their children around black kids.

My 2nd grade photo with a bunch of kids - black and white
My 2nd grade photo – I’m in the front row, the Aspie closing her eyes and keeping very, very still

My parents weren’t like that. In fact, when a black family moved in next door to us, and everyone else on the block put up “For Sale” signs in their house windows, my parents refused to do that. Eventually, some signs came down. Other neighbors moved on.

My 3rd grade photo - I'm in the front row, fourth from the left. Eyes averted. Get me out of here!
My 3rd grade photo with a bunch of kids – black and white

Over the years, I became increasingly frustrated and turned around with regard to socializing. I had a hard time hearing the differences between sounds, and I thought that I had trouble because I was a white girl surrounded by black kids. But I was having a ton of different problems — total sensory overload.

My 4th grade photo - I'm sitting in the front row, third from the right - little Ms. Butch Thang
My 4th grade photo with a bunch of kids – black and white

Socially, it was very difficult for me to interact, not least because I didn’t know the rules for how to interact with other kids. White kids had one set of rules. Black kids had a different set of rules. I couldn’t figure it out. Plus, I couldn’t figure out why I was being treated like a girl, when I was obviously a little boy.

I called myself “Billy”. There’s an old bulletin board in my parents’ house that still has “my real name” on it. I put it there with magic marker.

Oddly, my parents never said anything about this.

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