Christopher Wheat (he/him)
Christopher joined Momma on August 14, 2023 live on Twitch to talk about Life with Asperger's Syndrome & Advocating for Disabilities
Growing up in the seventies and eighties, Christopher knew he was odd because the activities kids liked were not always the same as what he wanted to do. He was bullied and teased constantly and never understood why. The bullying lasted up to about his sophomore year in high school. Trying to have a girlfriend was impossible. Christopher was always a romantic, but trying to share that with the opposite gender didn't happen. His mother knew there was something different about him, but she didn't know (and neither did the doctors) what his deal was. She tried to put Christopher in smaller classes, and in high school, he attended a country school even though they lived in the city. Christopher was accepted to the California and Colorado Art Institutes because of his early work in video art from the Macintosh II computer. (Remember, we're talking 1988 at the time.) But his mom said no, so he was forced to attend a community college. Little did my mother know Christopher met a beautiful woman in the Spring of 1989. His mother was not thrilled that he met this woman; worse, Christopher proposed and married her in November that same year. They then had a daughter, a son, and a set of twin daughters.
When their twin daughters started to grow, one daughter suddenly started to regress to the point of not communicating with her parents or her sister. The doctors said that she has low-functioning autism and that they should expect to take care of her for the rest of her life. Fortunately, Chrildrens Mercy Hospital was experimenting with an Alzheimer's medication called Nemenda. Something extraordinary happened; the medication started to work! Their daughter's brain developed from low functioning to higher-functioning autism. Not only this revelation but her twin sister was also diagnosed with high-functioning autism. (Higher than her sister.) They learned that autism is hereditary, so Christopher decided to have himself tested for autism, and guess what..... He has a disability as well. It may sound horrible, but he was so relieved that he finally found out what was "wrong" was him. Christopher was 35 when he finally found out, but not knowing for all those years was maddening.
Weirdo 2.0 is a story Christopher wrote about the horrific experience he had the last year as a teacher in his old school district. After a meeting with the superintendent, he didn't like Christopher's answer about the state testing. So after the meeting, he met with the head of HR and told her to get rid of the 'weirdo.' From then on, many administrators, coordinators, and other officials came into Christopher's room, taking notes and trying to get him to quit. He had accommodations put into his records with HR before he started with the district. They broke every accommodation because Christopher was autistic—the book focuses on people like himself who have been bullied at work because of their disability.
Currently, Jaimee and Christopher have been married for 33 years. Christopher teaches SPED for an urban school district, but he is looking to be an administrator soon. He is also still writing, but finding the time has been tricky. Now, Christopher and Jaimee also have two granddaughters, three dogs, and a cat!
Socials / Links for More Info
References / Things Mentioned During the Stream
Favorite Poem: Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out
To be VERY clear - the tiny study that suggested a link between ASD and autism was not only revoked due to falsified information, but the author's medical license was then revoked - further underscoring the danger in the suggestion and the practices he employed in promoting that false idea.
Book Recommendation: Weirdo 2.0
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out
by Shel Silverstein
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout would not take the garbage out
She'd scour the pots and scrub the pans
Candy the yams and spice the hams
And though her daddy would scream and shout
She simply would not take the garbage out
And so, it piled up to the ceilings
Coffee grounds, potato peelings
Brown bananas, rotten peas, chunks of sour cottage cheese
That filled the can and covered the floor, cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones, drippy ins of ice cream cones
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel
Gluppy glumps of cold oat meal, pizza crust and withered greens
And soggy beans and tangerines and crust of black burned buttered toast
And gristly bits of beefy roast
The garbage rolled on down the hall, it raised the roof, it broke the wall
I mean, greasy napkins, cookie crumbs
Globs of gooey bubble gums, cellophane from green baloney, rubbery blubbery macaroni, peanut butter, caked and dry
Curdled milk and crusts of pie, moldy melons, dried-up mustard, eggshells mixed with lemon custard
Cold french fries and rancid meat, yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat
At last the garbage reached so high that it finally touched the sky
And all the neighbors moved away
And none of her friends would come to play
And finally, Sarah Cynthia Stout said
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late
The garbage reached across the state
From New York to the Golden Gate
And there, in the garbage she did hate
Poor Sarah met an awful fate
That I cannot, right now relate
Because the hour is much too late
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out