By now I ought to be able to write about Asperger’s with some objectivity and perspective.
Asperger’s is not the worst thing a kid or his parents might have to deal with. But as far as I’ve ever been able to see, Asperger’s kids lead lives of daily frustration, disappointment, self-recrimination, bafflement, and loneliness and it’s amazing to me that an Asperger’s kid can head off to bed at night, knowing what he’s going to face in the morning, cheerfully wishing his parents a goodnight and even more amazing that in the morning he can march himself out the door to school, whistling.
Today was a morning of school-related parental failure and I just can’t bring myself to be objective or find any perspective. All I feel is that if I ran into Moby right now I’d punch him in the nose.
In an interview with The New York Times, the musician Moby talked about how he was a purist when it came to tea, preferring it untainted by milk or sugar. “It might be a function of Asperger’s,” he said.
“You have Asperger’s?” asked the interviewer.
“No,” Moby said. “I just like to pretend I do. It makes me sound more interesting.”
Globe & Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti doesn’t say how first hand her experiences with Asperger’s are, but she must be close to someone who has to deal with it to know this:
So is Asperger’s “cool” now, as Moby seems to think? Is it merely geek chic, the undiagnosed condition that may have afflicted Mozart and Einstein? Not if you ask the thousands of people who struggle every day to function at work and school in a society that may view them as quirky, but doesn’t really understand how difficult it is to exist when you are, essentially, always speaking a foreign language. Or is it more likely that people share (even in some small way) the suspicion that this is all just a trendy camouflage, and agree with stand-up Denis Leary’s allegedly comic observation that “your kid is NOT autistic. He’s just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.”
I think I’d like to punch Denis Leary in the nose too.
Dealing with Asperger’s isn’t a matter of accepting that you are mildly and interestingly eccentric.
It’s living out of synch with everybody around you and knowing it and not having a clue how to fix that. It’s feeling as though you are from another planet even when you are with the people who know you and love you best. It’s suspecting that you are always missing the point, that you are not quite in on the joke, that there was something that was said you should have paid closer attention to, that you said something you shouldn’t have said but you have no clue what it was or why you shouldn’t have said it. It’s wondering, all the time, “What did I do this time?”
Whatever Renzetti’s experiences are, her column offers some of the objectivity and perspective I can’t manage right now.
Read the whole thing.
Hat tip Steve Kuusisto.