The Advantages of Asperger’s Syndrome, or Can I Keep Him? Huh? Huh? Can I Keep Him?

She said:

It was 2 AM and a clattering noise in the living room woke us up.Bigfoot UFO

“Did you hear that?” I said.

Tom went to investigate.

“Um…we have a problem,” he said.

There was animal poop on the hardwood floor and we don’t have any pets.

“Whatever it is, it’s not small,” he said, searching for the intruder. “I could use some help.”

But I couldn’t move. I was curled up in a defensive fetal position. When I was little, I used to be scared that nightmarish monsters would sneak into my room while I was sleeping. Now, one had finally found me. I was sure that if my bare foot touched the floor, the beast would attack.

“I…can’t…”

Before this incident, I had prided myself on an above-average ability to handle a crisis. I’d always found it easy to calm people down and make a plan, even when things were going terribly wrong. But we weren’t dealing with people in this case. We were dealing with a wild animal. And it was in…the…house. And I needed to use the bathroom.

“Can you check the bathroom,” I said. “Just in case.”

And behind the standing towel rack, Tom saw two fuzzy ears.

“It’s an opossum,” he said.

“What?!”

“North America’s only indigenous marsupial is in the corner, next to the bathtub.”

He said:

Dealing with a marsupial in the bathroom is not one of Linda’s strong suits.

Linda and I are a good match in many ways, particularly in a crisis. Linda handles aggressive people with absolute aplomb. In situations where I would be a confused mess, she steps in and takes charge, navigating the treacherous waters of human interaction.

I’m much better with the nonhuman variety—computers, mechanical things and small, furry animals. In this case, I think that having Asperger’s Syndrome equipped me for being able to get into our fuzzy little interloper’s brain. Animal reason and logic is not word-based, so by putting myself in his little paws I knew instinctively that the critter was not about to attack.

As I stood in the bathroom eyeing my opponent, I could immediately tell that he wanted out of our house more than we wanted him out, but he was terrified and wasn’t about to budge.

After checking the various nooks and crannies for any other furry compatriots, I called Animal Control. After convincing them that no, I wasn’t going to just put a box over a wild animal and take him outside, they sent help.

Now all the holes and entry points have been sealed, so I doubt we’ll be seeing any more surprise guests.

Still, that little opossum was pretty darned cute.

©2013 Tom and Linda Peters

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4 Comments

  1. The Advantages of Asperger’s Syndrome, or Can I Keep Him? Huh? Huh? Can I Keep Him? | The Aspie and the NT, interesante. Me encanta vuestra web.

    Reply
  2. Blue

     /  December 5, 2013

    OMGosh!! I’m on the spectrum, and I’ve had to capture and release a possum from the house twice!! Once, it was a baby in the kitchen :) The second time, it was a full grown adult in the upstairs bathroom. I was petting my cat while lying in bed (I have only one pet), then heard my cat drinking water in the bathroom… I think the possum was equally alarmed when I jumped out of bed and turned on the light to find him drinking from my cat’s water bowl. Like you, I think having Asperger’s made it easier to capture both possums–it was easy to sense what would be most upsetting. Move slowly, keep calm, no screaming (although, with the fully grown one, I did scream). I caught the baby by coaxing him into a corner, and then tossing a towel over him. Then I picked him up in the towel and let him outside. With the adult, I had to work harder to keep calm. But I knew he was just very shy and overwhelmed. He cornered himself in an open closet, so I used an empty box to scoop him up, covering him with a coat. I think possums are so cute! They are very gentle. I especially love their hands.

    Reply
    • What a great comment, Blue! Being on the spectrum does seem to help in understanding what animals are thinking. Temple Grandin has made a career out of it. I agree with you that the gentleness of opossums is truly endearing–just not in our bathroom!

      Reply

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