Regular readers know that my husband Dave and my grandson Tate
have Asperger Syndrome, (see this post from last year). It’s also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Now it’s simply called Autism.
Phew. Now we’re over the boring bits about terminology, I want to share two things. The first is a very short video talk given by a young man who has ASD, telling us 10 things he wants us to know about autism. It’s interesting, lively and helpful: follow this link.
The second thing I want to share is a long excerpt from my novel about a woman married to an eccentric man who doesn’t realise until late in the game that he is autistic. A few people have suggested that this storyline is not realistic. I beg to differ. I’d always thought Dave was eccentric and awkward, whilst being attractive, funny and lovable, but it was only when someone else in the family was diagnosed with ASD, that Dave and I realised that he has ASD too.
There is a lot of stereotyping about autism, especially in popular culture. This is understandable. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means it can vary widely in the way it manifests, and this makes it hard for the ordinary punter to grasp, hence the simplification and stereotyping.
Good grief, this is turning into an academic paper, not a blog post.
I’ll stop droning on. Here is the excerpt from BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU, when Fran has realised that Sol has ASD:
“Fran couldn’t imagine her life without Sol. Sol was central to everything. He was special and weird and she loved him for it. The crazy stuff he said made her laugh. He made her whole world bright with his nonsense – that stuff about sharing a bath with Wittgenstein! If she had challenged him on it and said “Don’t talk rubbish – you wouldn’t really share a bath with Wittgenstein,” he would have said “Why not? The Romans went to the baths together. Martial and Catullus went to the baths with their friends. Why shouldn’t I share a bath with Wittgenstein? But you do realise that Wittgenstein is dead, don’t you? So there is, actually, no possibility of my doing so?”
Yes – you crazy weirdo – I know full well that Wittgenstein is dead.
But the thing was, she wouldn’t even have known who Wittgenstein was if it weren’t for Sol. She would never have heard of Martial or Catullus. She wouldn’t know what a gerund was. She wouldn’t know the little she knew about black holes and quarks and supernova if it weren’t for Sol. Her vocabulary would be so much poorer - she wouldn’t know what meretricious and chimera and coruscating meant if it weren’t for him. So much of her knowledge base came from him. He was intelligent and cultured and widely read. He was her own tame polymath. How could she live her life without him and make do with ordinary, normal, pastel-coloured people like George and Fiona and Debbie and Chrissie?.…………………
…….. Was his strange, material way of viewing their marriage due to Aspergers? How could she have been married to him all these years and not recognized that he had a definable condition? Was it because Asperger syndrome varied so much from person to person? Or was it that when you live with someone and adapt to them bit by bit over so many years, you lose the ability to be objective? You just think of the person as themselves – not as someone with a condition. And isn’t that how you should think of someone, anyway? As themselves? Not as a condition or a syndrome or a disorder on legs? But all this Asperger stuff was irrelevant anyway. All that mattered was that she loved him.”