Friday, April 30, 2004

Great New York Times article on Asperger syndrome
Acquaintance Bill Stillman sent me this: like me he's self-diagnosed with AS but is a professional consultant to parents and teachers on autism-spectrum disorders, has written a book on the subject and is respected by other pros in that field.

When I read these stories I see a lot of the problems I had growing up but some of these people still seem farther gone. Another friend recently told me about people who are 'situationally retarded', where they grow up with unsupportive and/or abusive families and unconsciously 'dumb down' to fit in - when they get out of that bad environment they normalize. Still another friend who helped me 'get out' and get started as an adult 15 years ago thought that was what was wrong with me. Now I think it was a mix of the two - some traits of AS but maybe not full-blown AS, made much worse by being badly handled. I've come a long way since, gratia Dei.

Last July, Steven Miller, a university librarian, came across an article about a set of neurological conditions he had never heard of called autistic spectrum disorders. By the time he finished reading, his face was wet with tears.

Oh, yeah - the day four years ago when my whole life suddenly made sense. Except I wasn't crying - it was a relief and exciting to finally know.

First identified in 1946 by the Viennese physician Hans Asperger, the condition was little-known until it was added to the American psychiatric diagnostic manual in 1994.

It was 1944, during World War II, and 1) to his credit Dr Asperger, who I think died in 1980, tried and I think succeeded in protecting the boys in his study from being exterminated by the Nazis, and 2) a Catholic nun helped him in his work. I think 1980 also was when his work first was published in English.

"They thought I had found an excuse or something."

Trust me - nobody would have chosen the childhood or adolescence I had as a cool way to scam people.

"It does seem like people with Asperger's, once they click, have a lot of advantages in life," Jared said. "It's like we stay tadpoles for longer, but once we're ready, we're no less of a frog."


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