People on the spectrum have been around since the beginning of humanity. We just didn’t have a name to our brilliance and our demons. We coped. We built resilience. We lived. We died. I applaud today’s growing knowledge, awareness and hope for acceptance of neurodiversities. But let us not forget to build in ourselves and our children the same determined resilience that our neurodiverse forefathers had.
People ask, “Where are the autistics of ages past?”
I can name one: World War I hero, Purple Heart recipient, and mental hospital veteran—my grandfather, W. B. Mueller.
Grandpa served on the infamous Western Front. He told few horror stories, except to say rain fell interminably, dysentery was widespread, and rats ate the dead and the living with equal zest. He also recalled that the murky trench water emitted a stench so profound it permeated his provisions. Grandpa swore every meal tasted like corpses.
As he crouched in the trenches, shells exploded above him with furious violence, shredding soldiers in the line of fire. One such shell barrage pinned down Grandpa’s squad outside Château-Thierry. Five marines perished beside him. A pinkie-sized shell fragment tore through Grandpa’s leg, lodging at an irretrievable depth.
Grandpa would have recuperated quickly and returned to battle in modern times, but without antibiotics, he became gravely…
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