The following is by Christopher:
Tim Page is the former music critic for the New York Times and the Washington Post. Today he’s professor of journalism and music at the University of Southern California. In 2007 he wrote an article for the New Yorker detailing his growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome. My daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s part of the autism spectrum that leaves people highly intelligent and aware with a lack of social connection. They can excel in the class room (if they are left alone) but can’t do recess. As I said, my daughter has a bona fide diagnosis. As for me…
Tim’s New Yorker article, which had me in tears when I wasn’t roaring with laughter has been expanded into a new book called Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’s. I read it in one sitting. Again, lots of a-ha! moments. Tim used to write to elderly opera stars who sang with Puccini and Caruso and so did I. Tim drank and drugged and self-medicated and so did I. Tim was attracted to quirky anti social types when he was one himself, and so am I…..Oh, my.
Here’s a letter I wrote to Tim Page the other day. He answered right away, a lovely response I’ll keep private for now.
Some years back you were an invaluable help to me when I was working on radio tribute to Dawn Powell. It was through you that I traveled to Shelby, Ohio to meet Dawn’s cousin’s Jack and Rita Sherman-twice!-and to fall in love with them both…
We also talked about our kids and our lives a bit, although you and I have never met. My daughter, 19, has Asperger’s. I’ve become one of those pissy lay-parent-expert (HA!) types. And my wife does call me “The Asperger Poster Boy.” Your piece in the New Yorker moved me deeply. Your book, which I read yesterday in one sitting has me weepy, emotional and above all hopeful all over again.
You wrote to Geraldine Farrar when you were ten? I wrote to Rosa Ponselle and Lotte Lehmann when I was twelve. Their lovely replies are on my wall as I type these words to you. No sports, horrible with girls (still am), booze and drugs, 60s and 70s life-I’m 52-you got it, I ingested it. Do I have Asperger’s? Well, at Ted Kennedy’s funeral, to which I was riveted, the Boston Irishman that I am, I reeled off the names and ages of all the Kennedy grandchildren without stopping. Does that count?
Noting prepared me for a splendid and difficult daughter but her life helped me look at my own and Parallel Play offers the final, terrific bingo! moments for me. It’s a lovely book and it will be an important book and it will help many, many people. First Dawn Powell-actually first Virgil Thomson and Philip Glass, your writings led me to them years ago-then Dawn Powell, then Jack and Rita and now this. My God! When will I stop owing you, not that I mind!
Like Geraldine Farrar, I wish you “every blessing” and want to say thank you and Bravo!
(Posted by Scott Gowans)