Ch. B: Leaving the Nest for “MIT”

A brand new chapter for this volume (no prior version of this chapter existed for AM’s forebear), Ch. B explains where Aspie Mouse comes from; we meet his mother and four siblings; he leaves home, finds the mouse version of MIT (university), impresses everyone, and leaves ready to find his place in the world, armed with new maturity and tools (literal & figurative). For now, only the first four pages have been expanded and updated by adding panel separations and resizing to fit a graphic novel trim size of 5-1/2 x 8″. The rest will be redrawn prior to publication, likely expanding it to a 16-18 page chapter.

Notes for Chapter B, “Leaving the Nest for ‘M.I.T.‘”

This chapter is brand new for this volume. It explains where Aspie Mouse came from (we meet his mother and siblings) and how he got his education. Thus it’s first in this work’s sequence, even though Chapter A now appears ahead of it. Only one line (“Oh boy! Two cats! Double fun!”) in Ch. B is directly borrowed from a comic book the author wrote for Aspie Mouse’s forebear decades ago; no plot elements came from that earlier version of AM.

Written early in this volume’s development in early 2019, only the first four pages (formerly two) have been updated (in August, 2020) so far to introduce Aspie Mouse’s siblings, separate the panels and fit a 5-1/2 x 8″ trim size when shrunk down. Adding AM’s siblings now helps set up the return of his brother D and sister E in Ch. G. E will then continue to appear in subsequent chapters. One planned addition to Ch. B will be adding new “M.I.T.” material: when AM takes a course on “Translating Human Words to Rodent Understanding.” The revised length is estimated at 18 pp.

Ch. B’s topic expansions open the door for asking end-of-chapter questions about living situations and family (especially siblings) that were originally intended to be first introduced in Chapter D. Note that Chapters A & H also deal with home — about moving to a new one.

The answer to Question B4c (last part) is any variation of “You wouldn’t be happy here” or “You probably wouldn’t fit here,” or in the extreme, “Why don’t you go back where you came from?” All of which is unfair of course and hurts — a lot (though the author, unaware that it was his Autism-induced anxiety that prompted someone to say that to HIM (“Why don’t you go back where you came from?) laughed at the time, figuring he “deserved” to see what it felt like as a mostly Northern European-descended cis-gendered young white man! Toe/ Hashtag isn’t saying this to AM out of prejudice or to hurt him, but out of genuine concern for him. That still doesn’t reduce the potential hurt, or its possible effect of limiting AM’s choices if he listens to her instead of what his heart is telling him he should do. Yet in all likelihood, he’d come to the same conclusion as Hashtag whatever she said.

The author had a cousin who was pushed toward vocational high school because he wasn’t “smart enough” for an academic high school. He made a good living as a tool & die-maker, eventually starting his own business. His eldest son became an accountant (a profession known for high intelligence scores), then Chief Financial Officer, then bought & ran a manufacturing business! His dad was not smart enough??

The “you wouldn’t be happy here” argument was (& is) used to discourage women & minorities from entering certain high-paying “white male” professions, or moving to certain towns or neighborhoods. Might it be at least part of the reason people diagnosed with falling on the Autism Spectrum average 70-80% unemployment/ underemployment rates?

Stranger than fiction #1: On the last page of the chapter, Phil laments that when students graduate from the mouse MIT, they scatter without saying goodbye, hugging, etc. When this chapter is revised, the asterisk will likely be removed, with the comment there moving HERE: The author was with a group of MIT alumni friends ending a celebration for an out-of-town friend’s visit. They just left, with no ceremony, no goodbye’s — much to the consternation of a Neurotypical woman present who couldn’t understand how they could just leave like that when they might not see each other again for years. The author observed that Autistic people don’t see the need. They’re glad to see their friends, and will be glad to see them again, but when it’s time to leave, they’re ready to move on to the next thing. Get-togethers aren’t all that big a deal! Other places that show Aspie Mouse exhibiting this “ho-hum, OK, bye” behavior: Chapters D, G, F & I.

Questions for Thought/ Discussion: Ch. B, “Leaving the Nest for ‘M.I.T.‘”

B 1: (Similar to Q. D1) Aspie Mouse likes where he lives, but Momma wants him out.

a. What do you like about where you live? Dislike?

b. When do you prefer being alone? When would prefer being around other people? c. Which specific person or people would you rather be around most or all the time?

d. Are you (or if younger, Do you plan to be) living on your own or staying with your parents after you finish your school work? Which would your parents prefer that you do? If these wants are different, does it cause stress, and how do you handle stress?

e. Do you judge your parents understand your needs in terms of having Autism? Do you think you have tools to increase understanding if they initially didn’t “get” you?

f. How did you react when AM’s mom literally “kicked him out” of the house? What feelings came up for you? What do you wish AM could do instead of “taking it”?

g. Do you have pets at home? If more than one, do you have a favorite? Do pets respond well to you? Why do you think a pet may prefer one member of the household to another if that appears to be true?

B 2: (Similar to Q. D 2) Aspie Mouse lives with four siblings: brother D, sisters B, C & E.

a. If you live or lived with one or more other children growing up, especially non-Autistic (neuro-typical), how do/ did you and they get along?

b. Same situation (grew up with other kids, Autistic or not): Was there jealousy — complaints about fairness — about parents’ treatment about achievement, abilities, success, attention, and how rules were applied to you vs. them? Do/ did such complaints go both ways, or did you or another child complain a lot more, at least in your memory? Would the other child(ren) likely agree on who complained more?

c. If you’re an only child, did you wish you had a brother or sister or both? How might life have been different?

d. If you grew up with other kids at home, did you often wish you were an only child? How might life have been different?

e. (Will go into further depth with this subject in Question D 3, 2 chapters later): How do you think Aspie Mouse feels when 3 of his 4 siblings call him “names” and say they’d rather he be gone? Has this been an issue between you and your siblings (if you have) and/ or schoolmates (name-calling)? How have you handled it?

f. Do you believe sibling issues are different (better? worse? the same?) in homes where none of the children having Autism or other reason their brains operate differently from most people’s?

B 3:  

B 4:  At the bottom of p. B XXX and top of p. B XXX, Aspie Mouse and Toe/ Hashtag disagree as to the reason(s) AM can’t or shouldn’t be a “lab mouse.”

a.  How did you react when Aspie Mouse said he couldn’t be a lab mouse because he’s gray, whereas lab mice are all white? Does he have a point? Does his complaint remind you of anything in the human world?

b.  What reasons do Toe/ Hashtag give for why AM is not a suitable lab mouse? Does she have a point?

c.  Summarize the final reason/ argument Toe/ Hashtag gives for discouraging AM for wanting to be a human lab mouse (in first panel on p. B XXX following “besides …”) in a simple sentence of 10 words or fewer (even better if as few as 5 words).

d. How might someone in power deny a person buying a house, renting an apartment, applying for a job, etc., by “creating” such an argument/ story as per B4c? How might creating such a story take attention away from or justify (make seem reasonable; help disguise) a person in power’s possible discomfort/ prejudice about something superficial in the applicant — race, gender, ethnicity, age or disability? Then how might the person in power use that story to discourage an applicant (for the house, apartment, job) from moving forward?

e. Building on B4abc, if you’re given the argument that Toe/ Hashtag gives Aspie Mouse, and you believe it should be challenged (whether you agree with it or not), how might you do so?

B 5: Per Question A 7: a list of common Autism traits, followed by two questions related to them:

  1. No eye contact
  2. Sensory sensitivity: noise, certain lights, smells & touch
  3. Voice Volume, Repetition & Variability
  4. Stimming
  5. Anxiety (fear) of social situations: responses of fight, flight or freeze
  6. Over-sensitivity: over-reaction or no visible reaction (mistaken as not caring)
  7. Pattern-seeking
  8. Special Interest(s)
  9. Love routine/ dislike change
  10. Lack of Social Understanding
  11. Can’t remember names or faces, read body language etc.
  12. Not Showing or Over-showing Feelings
  13. Don’t Understand Jokes
  14. Difficulty getting & keeping friends, relationships & jobs
  15. Difficulty feeling safe
  16. Sharing one’s diagnosis — should I or not?

a. Which of these characteristics can you identify that Aspie Mouse or another Autistic character exhibits in this chapter — either negative or positive?

b. Examples in this chapter of cats acting Autistic (or not), and dogs as Neurotypical (empathetic)?

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