"For success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential."
-Dr. Hans Asperger
As is my want after I finish reading a particularly brilliant book, I feel compelled to use my DA journal, subject as it is to my thoughts and emotions, to express my thoughts.
And in this case, my analysis is particularly personal.
"Parallel Play" is a 2008 memoir by Music Critic and Professor, Tim Page, documenting his life, childhood and development into manhood.
The full title of the book is:
"Parallel Play, Growing Up With Undiagnosed Aspergers."
During the introduction and the epilogue, Tim discusses the developmental disorder he was born with: Aspergers syndrome, while the body of the book is devoted to recounting the events of his life.
For those of you who might not know, Aspergers Syndrome was first brought to the attention of the Psychiatric community by the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger in 1944.
In essence, it is a mild and rare form of autism.
The syndrome is usually characterized by the following symptoms.
-Having poor or stunted social development
-Perceptive sensitivity, such as sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
-Extremely narrow and specific interests
-Dislike form any changes in setting or routine
-Having a hard time "reading" other people or understanding humor
-Having difficulty recognizing social cues
-Having an above average memory and vocabulary
-Harboring a powerful need for solitude for a calm psychological state
And so on.
What made "Parallel Play" a particularly profound read for me was not just the fact that much of the story takes place in Storrs Connecticut, the town where I grew up, but that I have in the past and to a large extent still do, exhibit all of the aforementioned symptoms.
On more than one occasion been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.
Like autism itself, Aspergers has many forms and variants. Being born with the condition might leave one as merely mildly eccentric to full-blown, high-functioning autism. I fall somewhere in between.
I had known about my condition for some time. I won't go into the full plethora of details about my childhood, but suffice it to say, a fair amount of it wasn't pretty.
I had tried to carry on and live a somewhat normal life after leaving college. I haven't done very well in the real world thusfar, but I've survived on my own, far from my family for 3 years now, even managing for some security and stability.
It wasn't until recently thought when I read "Parallel Play," and realized how much living on my own was a step into a completely different world.
I've had some success in adapting to the work-a-day world, but the true reality of working for a large corporation and the sacrifices it requires were thrown into sharp relief when I read "Parallel Play."
My current line of work only has a limited capacity to satisfy the interests that my Aspergers has granted me. And in reading the book, I was all the more glad that I pursued one of these interests independently: writing.
I'm far from the stage where I can get paid to write, but with my first, unpublished, 900-page novel under my belt, my confidence that I can aspire to the lofty goals and heightened discipline required for the serious writer. Now that I'm past the halfway point of the rough draft of my second novel, I have no doubt I'll see the denouement through to the end.
Whether I'll actually see any financial reward for my efforts is another matter. What matters most for me is that I have an outlet for one of my interests, and one which I can pursue with tenacity and fervor. On one of my days off I can spend upwards of 8 hours simply writing, and I can't get enough.
My problem is that the same Aspergers that gives me the endurance to compose in solitude is the same syndrome that dislikes change in routine and encroachment on my free time, which is more the rule than the exception in the corporate world.
But I digress.
In short, "Parallel Play" is a brilliant book, and I'd recommend it to anyone. [link]
As for me, the prose gave me a lot to think about, and helped me learn a lot about myself. That's for damn sure.
In the meanwhile, I hope you all are well in your respective ventures.
Be well, all. Take care of each other.
"Personal failings are no excuse to not serve the common obligation to give of ourselves."