Friday, August 17, 2007

Parallel Play, Parallel Lives

New York Times and Washington Post music critic Tim Page wrote a wonderful personal article in the August 20, 2007 issue of The New Yorker about living with Asperger’s Syndrome (only the abstract is available on line). Reading it reminded me of my own childhood as the only child not somewhere on the Asperger's side of the autism spectrum in my immediate family. We have a wide range (hence the term "spectrum") in our family, with some members teetering on the edge of "normalcy," while others were (and still are) closer to the "classical autism" end of the spectrum.

When I was growing up I thought that being "normal" was to have the kinds of sensitivities that Tim Page writes about. I always thought that I was somehow deficient because I didn't have perfect pitch, and I always thought that I was kind of stupid because I didn't have the kind of what I always thought of as intelligence, musical and otherwise, that my brothers had. They always seemed to hear more than I did, and were able to respond to music in a way that I was unable to.

I have also always sought out friendships with people "on the spectrum" because the experience of relating in a meaningful way with someone with Asperger's Syndrome is extremely familiar, and even rather comfortable. I also have an uncanny ability of identifying children who are on the spectrum because they remind me of my brothers when they were children.

I really appreciate what Tim Page wrote about his childhood and his acute sensitivities to music because it helps me to understand a lot about my childhood and myself. As far as I'm concerned as both a performing musician and as a composing musician, much of what I do is for people like Tim and like my brothers (and my other "brothers" and "sisters" who are music-loving people with Asperger's Syndrome).

Note: I just came across this video clip of Tim Page as a 13-year-old aspiring film maker that I thought I would share here.


Liz said...

I'll have to check that article out. Your family sounds like what mine may turn out to be.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I read the New Yorker article as soon as the issue came. Wow, just wow, to this posting. Thank you.