Originally I meant this post to follow on the heels of the previous one, as something of an explanation. Various activities, such as income tax, got in the way. I have also been doing a final edit on my novel The Revengers, which was inspired by the case of Ryo Kiyan and the wall of misunderstanding between the world of Asperger’s syndrome and the neurotypical world.
It’s that wall and where it can lead that is the purpose of this blog and also of the novel. In the latter, Ben’s eagerness for friendship leads him to press too hard on Kelsey Fritz, who perceives that pressure as stalking, and consequently is terrified. Ben sees her terror as a misunderstanding of his intention, when all he wants is to make sure she understands that he has no evil intentions. And so it goes, spiraling into near-tragedy.
That is exactly what happened between Ryo and Miss Mall, although in that case the tragedy actually occurred. Miss Mall’s terror led to events that in the end caused Ryo to take his own life.
As I wrote the last post, I realized that the whole blog may strike readers as one-sided. Blogs, like most written material, are supposed to have a point of view. I did try to be broad-minded and see things from the other side, but this was difficult for two reasons: 1) I had no access to the other side, except to hear it spelled in dry legalese during four days of hearings, and 2) Ryo was living with me at the time, so I could follow all that happened from his point of view and how he felt about it. I could only try to imagine Miss Mall’s feeling of being stalked, although my own reaction would have been annoyance rather than terror. As I mentioned before, Miss Mall testified that she took to carrying a knife and pepper spray, and noting where he left his car before she would venture into the parking lot.
Ryo himself felt bad that Miss Mall was so frightened. Certainly he never meant to produce that effect. He only wanted to talk things over. Since they had been friends, he assumed she knew him well enough to understand that. Obviously she didn’t. Nor could he, being an Aspie, understand what was going on in her mind. Because Sullivan County chose to ignore the fact that he had Asperger’s syndrome, and/or was totally oblivious as to how it can affect a person’s thinking and perception, the ultimate result for Ryo, and for me, as his mother, was heartbreak.
Yes, it’s true that he took his own life. It was his decision. It’s also true that very few people make that decision lightly. He felt he had no future. He felt that the world was a rotten place and he just didn’t fit in. Although the events unfolded gradually, their outcome was a special shock because, after forty-plus years, he thought his life was finally coming together and making sense. He had a job he really enjoyed, and he had friends, especially one who seemed as compatible as Miss Mall.
Many Aspies I know have contemplated suicide—because they feel they don’t fit in. But there is room for them in this world, they have much to contribute, and it’s my hope that eventually more neurotypicals will come to understand that. As a character in The Revengers points out, “Just because a person is different doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him.”