You know how they say some autistic people have special gifts - some special skill that is extremely rare? Well, I wasn't sure if I had any. But I recently discovered mine. This was how.
I was in the car with my friend, going ice-skating. She told me that her daughter was ill, but that she herself wasn't. But I could smell illness in the car all around her. I figured, oh, this is just very strong because it's an enclosed space. Later, at the ice rink, I skated up to her and got a really big whiff of ill-smell - in a massive ice-rink with lots of air and other people around to dissipate it. So I said, "excuse me, you're definitely ill, who are you kidding on - it's not just your daughter".
My friend (who's a GP) looked surprised and asked me how I knew. I said because I can smell it. She told me that it wasn't normal to be able to smell illness. I was completely surprised - I thought everyone could do it. I smelled the same smell that I used to when my sister was off sick from school and spent the day lying on the couch, so I'd learned that was the smell of illness.
Last weekend, at a party, my friend told me she had the lurgy. I got a whiff of her breath and knew that she was telling the truth - she smelled pretty ill. I told another friend that I could smell her illness and it became a big topic of amusement, with lots of people reacting in a pretty astonished way.
Well, pretty cool, eh? I never knew it was a special gift because I assumed everyone could smell illnesses! I can't smell every illness - e.g. I can't smell colds or cancer. I don't know what it is that I'm smelling - a virus, a bacteria, a body's reaction to these, or some sort of substance produced in response?
But, of all the possible gifts and amazing autistic talents out there, I did wonder - could I not have got something a little more useful or spectacular?!?