Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yet another adult Asperger's memoir

In what would seem to be a rather weary if not cliched genre, I see that yet another person with Asperger's, not diagnosed until very late in life has joined the August company of John Elder Robison, Liane Wiley, Michael John Carley in penning a memoir describing what it is like to have Asperger's. As is the case with his three predecessors, Tim Page is also someone atypical of someone with an autism spectrum disorder in that he has been a hugely successful music critic and a pulitzer prize winning writer. Though I concede one can't judge a book by its cover (another cliche I admit) I don't think I will be reading this book, as I don't think he is someone I can resonate with, whom if he can be a pulitzer prize winning writer, most likely does not have problems of the magnitude of mine. I can still remember in the pre-Asperger's days when Temple Grandin and David Miedzianik were the only two persons in the world with ASD's who had written autobiographical books. Robison has spoken for all persons with Asperger's saying a cure is not needed under any circumstance. Michael Carley has gone a bit further than Robison stating the old neurodiversity piece of propaganda that most persons on the autism spectrum don't wish a cure. Most troublesome of all, at least at one time, Wiley stated that autism should be celebrated on her web page, though I think she may have changed that. Tragically, her book was given a shameless plug in the movie Adam. I still wonder if there will ever be a person on the spectrum who will write a memoir about how adverse their life is. How they went to special ed schools, and were unable to work or find a romantic relationship. I know this sounds familiar, but personally I probably would not have an interest in writing a complete memoir. I did write a short (nonpublished) nonfiction book about some of my takes in autism which consisted of 10 chapters. One of the chapters is my essay in which I attempt to refute the diagnosis of various persons claimed to be autistic, so I suppose I could claim my book is one-tenth self-published. The rest of the book would need major overhaul to be of publishable quality and I sort of crashed and burned on the project. Even if I had a book ready for submission anyplace, I don't think I would have much of a chance of having it published.

A few years ago Page wrote an essay of his own about his Asperger's and childhood which was published in the New Yorker. In this essay he describes a rather tumultuous childhood with discipline problems in school, poor grades and having some children bully him. This was apparently a regular mainstream school. Page then describes his ascension to adulthood becoming a successful writer and editor of various periodicals. He is vague in the essay as to how he so easily made the transition from troubled child to successful adult. He is told by someone in the year 2000 (well in his 40s) that he has Asperger's syndrome. He is vague as to whether he was actually diagnosed by a clinician.

To Page's credit, he admits that others with AS are not as fortunate as he is and some of them end up institutionalized or were transients near where he lived in New York.

Though he does not state an opinion about the neurodiversity movement, he does mention its existence as well as discuss Aspies for Freedom as one example of some people who regard AS as a difference not needing a cure.

I do not know if Mr. Page is married as are his three predecessor memoirists in this fast growing genre.

Well, I think I will pass on Page's book, but I suppose not everyone will feel the way I do. I don't know how successful Carley's and Wiley's books were, but I know Robison's was a best seller. I suppose there must be people who want to read about successful persons with Asperger's since the genre seems to keep growing exponentially.


Roger Kulp said...

As you say,books like this do have a market,probably to others with Asperger's diagnosed as adults.

I just finished a long piece in a ND blog that took apart David Kirby's 1 in 100 article, with a "so what" attitude.While it is is stating the obvious,the argument could be made that all these people represent an increased incidence of ASDs 40 or 50 years ago than thought at the time.

Stephanie Lynn Keil said...

I love the new Diane Sawyer quote. I stole it for my blog.

jonathan said...

No problem Stephanie: I stole it from Diane Sawyer. Did you see the video with her colleague interviewing Ari Ne'eman where when asked what could be done about nonverbal autistic children, Ne'eman replied that being anti-cure is not being anti-progress? It was after that interview that Sawyer interjected that great definition of neurodiversity.

Arthur Golden said...


In this blog entry you mention that "...One of the chapters is my essay in which I attempt to refute the diagnosis of various persons claimed to be autistic, so I suppose I could claim my book is one-tenth self-published." I just read your essay entitled "Undiagnosing Gates, Jefferson and Einstein" and I would like to quote the following two paragraphs:

"Just as Temple Grandin and others have claimed autistic tendencies for Einstein because of his shoddy clothing, lack of grooming and hygiene, Storr claimed that these were characteristics of schizophrenia. One of the problems is that autistics and schizophrenics have many attributes in common. If one were to speculate on a medical condition for any given historical figure it might be hard to distinguish which of these two conditions they had."
"A diagnosis of autism or Asperger's is made based on behavior that occurs in childhood. Autism is usually diagnosed by the age of 4, often based on an inability to speak or abnormal use of language. Asperger's syndrome usually does not include an impairment of language but abnormal social behavior and is often diagnosed later than autism, usually by about age 8 or 9 at the latest. Therefore, in order to equivocally say that Jefferson's behavior is even reminiscent of Asperger's there should be documentation that Jefferson had some social impairments in childhood."

In these two paragraphs, which I believe you wrote several years ago, you raise both of the important issues about diagnosis as an adult of Asperger's - differential diagnosis from Schizophrenia and "there should be documentation ... [of] some social impairments in childhood" (early onset). For anyone claiming a diagnosis as an adult of Asperger's, I would question the diagnosis without a credible differential diagnosis from Schizophrenia (which has a later onset) and "there should be documentation ... [of] some social impairments in childhood." Whenever you wish to discuss this matter further, I hope I notice your blog entry and that we can continue this important discussion, which I believe should include the matter of delusions. As you may remember from our previous discussions, I am still thinking about Michelle Dawson.

Arthur Golden

jonathan said...

Arthur: I meant that some of the behaviors of schizophrenia might be like autism, so someone diagnosing a historical figure could just as well say they were schizophrenic, in fact, there was one author (I don't recall which one) who suggested that Einstein's mode of thinking was schizophrenic (He has also been diagnosed posthumously with dyslexia as well as schizophrenia and autism). Not sure how that relates to a differential diagnosis of autism or Asperger's. Though ASD's and schizophrenia have some things in common, they are two different conditions and a misdiagnosis of an ASD person with schizophrenia or vice-versa seems unlikely if evaluated by a trained clinician. So, I doubt that the prominent persons who have autism and/or Asperger's allegedly or otherwise would have schizophrenia because you correctly stated schizophrenia involves delusions.

Not sure what this has to do with Michelle Dawson as apparently she has some sort of documentation of an autism diagnosis as she needed it for her lawsuit against Canada post-though I admit I don't know all the details of that.

Arthur Golden said...


In your quick reply to my comment, you bring up several very good points.

As a side comment, I would like to state that you seem to be quite logical and knowledgeable about autism, contrary to the opinion held by persons connected with Neurodiversity.

I believe my first comment to this blog entry and your reply are on point to your original blog entry and I would like to give you a detailed response to your reply to my comment. However, I will be away from my computer for over 24 hours. Please let me know if you wish to continue our discussion in about 1-1/2 days.

Meanwhile, I would welcome replies to my first comment from others.


Anonymous said...


I don't know anything about any previous discussions but I gather you believe that Michelle Dawson does not have autism but instead a different, related disorder, such as schizophrenia.

Is this correct?

Foresam said...

Michelle Dawson is a sadistic psychopath. That's the only thing that fits anyone who opposes helping disabled kids.

highschoolteacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake Crosby said...

It is so ironic that Robison would say we (AS people) do not need a cure under any circumstance, while he goes out and goes through Transcranial Magnetical Stimulation. I cannot imagine the typical ND permitting that, when I asked him about this seemingly self-contradicting form of behavior, he said he would like to get rid of only the "limitations" of having AS. But isn't that what autism spectrum disorders are? limitations? If Robison no longer had the "limitations" of having AS, he would no longer fit an AS diagnosis.

His attitude seems to be: "I don't want a cure for AS, and here I am persuing one," such double-think is so typical of the Neurodiversity agenda.

The same is the case of their "social model of disability." They want to keep the legal definition of disability to include people with Aspergers because they agree they need to be able to qualify for accommodations, and that only lack of sufficient accommodations or whatever else they may think society owes them leads to disability.

Yet, they don't actually agree with the legal definition itself, which being medically-based therefore states that AS and all other ASDs are disabilities no matter what, and henceforth disagree with the need for a "cure." This is yet another fault in their logic.

jonathan said...

Jake, though we disagree on some issues such as the vaccines as casual factors in autism and perhaps others, on this I am in 100% agreement with you. Not sure what else I could say. John Robison did give you his justification though.