Diary of An Autistic Doctor

I have dealt with all the ways I was different my whole life.

In kindergarten, my classroom performance had already gotten me labelled as the “rowdy delinquent.” One week short of my tenth birthday, I was stuck in a tree. And to pass the time, I started having a conversation with myself. I assigned my brain a larger-than-life nickname when it became obvious that I had inherited a brain that was the embodiment of slapstick: Charlie Chaplin.

When I was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, treatments were long, frustrating and full of setbacks: special ed, failed exams and detentions that had me reciting the rosary during recess. My patience and faith were stretched to the limit by the time I was thirteen. I had frizzy hair, acne, and a retainer; the burden of caring for a brain that was disorganized and socially anxious was wearing me thin. I completed therapy, mediation—everything my counsellors suggested. But no matter how many calendars I bought, my brain was the way it was, and it was not going to change.


“We talked about this,” Ms. Brice said, and swung her door shut. “This is the third test you’ve slept through. Two classmates had to shake you awake.”

Ms. Brice was my fifth-grade teacher and I really liked her. Not just because I once caught a glimpse of a Jon Bon Jovi tape cassette tucked inside her desk drawer, but because she wore mismatched socks just like me and always accepted me.

Before I was a physician, I was an accomplished troublemaker. By the time I was in kindergarten, I had already been assigned the label of “rowdy delinquent.” Legend has it that I never learned to play by the rules, but the truth is, I played by the rules I was assigned.


“Am I going to see you again tomorrow,” I ask Tom while he heads for the door.

“No Doc,” he says, “I’m going to the hospital to visit my dad. He’s dying.”

I take a sip of my coffee. “Next week, then?”

He smiles. “Next week, see you then Doc.”

And just like that, he was gone.


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