I am diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, which is considered to be a form of high functioning Autism. Psychologists say my Asperger’s is mild due to skill set and coping abilities. One of the things that made me aware of differences early on is an ability to recall unusually early childhood memories and an ability to communicate these memories in rich detail later on.
Research: I find after years of personal research the average person’s early memories “typically” start between the ages of 2-5 years. In some cases, memories may start even later if there is early childhood trauma. There have been subjects claiming to have little or no recollection of their youth before the ages of 9-11 years. This being said, those same subjects report having some scarce recollections of shadowy events, but do not seek clarity of memory, understandably so.
Since receiving my diagnosis, I began seeking out individuals on the spectrum (Autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s Disorder and High Functioning Autism) to pose my conundrum. So far, it has been a mixture of the “typical” response of 2-5 years alongside a small grouping of individuals who are noted for having early childhood memories that span as far back as 9–18 months of age. This is the first time, outside of a closely related family member that I have spoken with individuals having childhood memories before the age of 2.
In my case, it was during my pre-adolescent years when I first recalled memories going back as far as 6 months old (approximately). Those memories are as vivid today as they were when I first recalled them. My earliest memory is of my mother changing my diaper. She held my feet up to remove the diaper, cringing a little; she quickly removed it and began wiping me clean. I cannot recall an offensive odor. Perhaps I could smell the odor, but did not find it offensive at the time. My mother’s reaction is the only indication that there might have been an odor associated with my diaper.
Observation: When my son was an infant, I made a mental note of his reaction or should I say lack of reaction when changing a heavily soiled diaper and/or emptying his colostomy bag. He did much the same as I did…cooing, grinning and waving his arms which I gladly reciprocated. He did not react to the odor. And when I’d crinkle my nose and sing the “stinky dink” song, my son would simply grin and drool even more.
An infant’s lack of response to his/her own bodily smells appears to be a typical occurrence as observed with my son and other infants.
My diapers were white and made out of cloth. Mom folded the cloth into a triangle and then placed it under me. She used pink bunny diaper pins. I recall her using yellow duck pins as well. I found those diaper pins, many years later, in a little gold colored box, neatly tucked in a drawer. I can also recall my right arm resting on a white container that felt very cool and had a smooth yet soft granular feel to its surface. The tactile feel of the soft granular particles on that smooth cool surface were euphoric. Mom took the item from me and I could see something written on it…Johnson and Johnson’s. Of course, at that time I did not know what the words said, but knew exactly what the words were when I recalled the memory.
What is your earliest childhood memory?