By Ron Hedgcock
Key Themes: Aspergers syndrome, austism, essays, friends, humour
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This book is not any sort of professional manual on Asperger’s Syndrome nor yet an autobiography.
It comprises a revealing series of Essays on Ron’s experiences and speculations in the light of the
understanding he now has of the Syndrome. He details his relations with the world, with his family, his
children, friends, therapists and with his wives. The writing is delivered in a friendly and conversational
mode, with a fair mix of humor and irony, - indeed in much the same style with which he presents his
popular lectures. In these pages he describes some of the things that the NTs (non-Autistics) of this
world simply cannot know about those on the Autism Spectrum. A glance at the Table of Contents will
show the wide and stimulating variety of questions that have pressed Ron to seek for answers during
much of his 74 years.
About the Author
Ron was born in 1935 in Victoria, Australia. His relatively average scholastic record at school was
matched by an undistinguished career in routine clerical jobs as an adult. Very early in life, he became
deeply interested in Theatre and the public platform; eventually in his later years, to become classified
as a professional Actor and Lecturer, with experience in Stage, Radio, Film and Television. The
questions in his mind after three failed marriages, led to his discovery of Aspergers Syndrome. And the
diagnosis of same by a Melbourne professional during his mid 60s, proved a turning point in his life,
giving him the answers he had been seeking for many years.
This collection of essays is the result of a lifetime living with Asperger Syndrome, or AS as it can be termed for short, and of some 12 years of knowing about it. I was not actually diagnosed until nine years ago, when I took the step of consulting with a Melbourne professional. Oh sure, I’d wondered, I’d puzzled and I’d speculated on the anomalies of my personality, but with very mixed results. Then it happened that my then wife Brenda showed me a library book on Aspergers, pointing out that it described persons that appeared to be very much like me. This was ‘Autism and Asperger Syndrome”, edited by Uta Frith. Though I was impressed with the concept, I didn’t really take it on board for several years; and I must stress that I felt no insult or rejection in potentially applying the label to myself.
Over the next three years two separate psychologists made the serious suggestion that I was AS; one loaned me Professor Attwood’s ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’. As soon as I took it up, I knew that this was IT. I had come home at last. I joined the State Autism Society, and linked up with several discussion lists on the Internet and duly contributed to the same.
After purchasing two or three current books on the subject, I proceeded to contact the authors of those I found most relevant to me. I had by then made extensive notes about my life and the meaning of AS in it; and, feeling that I had something special to tell the world on the subject, impulsively took the step of offering a lecture to the State AS Support Network. This was not a particularly difficult thing to do, since I am a professional speaker. In my first presentation I made a point of varying and lightening the talk with brief performance items and comedy sketches. I must confess that these probably bore no specific significance to the subject of my AS; but I offered them to illustrate some of the skills and interests that are an integral part of my life.
The writings in this book are based on the speculations and conclusions that have absorbed me ever since my diagnosis. They include some auto-biographical material, of the kind that will give an in-depth understanding of much more about myself; and a brief personal history will be found as one of the Appendices to this book. Some persons with Asperger Syndrome seem to resent the suggestion that a ‘mild’ form of the condition can exist. Nevertheless I feel, and am supported in my assumption by the Professionals in my life, that I indeed do show AS in a mild form. It is for that reason that I was inspired to title my basic public presentation with the heading Confessions of a Borderline Aspie. Much as I wanted to apply that name to the present volume, I considered that it may lead some to conclude that I have ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ as well. This certainly is not the case. So I reluctantly and discretely chose the present wording.
I am using conventional bits of jargon, as well as abbreviations in the form of certain familiar sets of initials throughout the book. For example, I discovered that the majority of AS persons are happy to refer to themselves as Aspies - which happens to have become something of an in-house term - a pet label we apply to ourselves. By contrast, those who are not Aspies are conventionally described as NTs. This stands for Neuro-Typicals, or in other words the ‘normal’ majority of the population, whose brains are ‘wired up’ as we phrase it, in the more familiar form. The letters HFA stand for High Functioning Autism. I place Asperger people into that hypothetical grouping of the population, which is described as ‘The Spectrum’, a scale of developmental disorders, which includes the various forms of Autism.
In regard to my writing or lecturing about Aspergers, it might be said that I am
blessed with a couple of advantages. I have a fluency in speaking, that I can apply
with reasonable effectiveness to the job of explanation. As well, since my condition
is relatively mild (and indeed as many have said, nigh invisible) it appears to me that I live very close to the norm of the population. Thus as I see it, I am to some extent,
able to look into each camp… that of the AS persons and that of the NTS. So I
perhaps have a facility that enables me to explain to the outside world of those NTs, a
bit more clearly than most, just what they really need to know about the world
of the AS. Others have written about the How and the What. I am making an attempt to explain something of the Why. So herein I set out to describe something of the mind of an Aspie as he deals with the world of people, and especially when he is endeavouring to communicate with his wife or partner.
But these descriptions of the Aspie mind represent possibilities only. Aspergers folk are just as different from each other as are the majority ‘typicals’ of our population. Many may be able to see that there are things that they don’t know, or can't understand about persons with AS; but I am attempting to describe or inform about various significant things in the AS psyche, that NTs are not aware that they don’t know. (I have a faint suspicion that a prominent American Secretary of Defence once made use of a similar phraseology.)
I make no scientific claims for what I have written here. I am not a professional in
Medicine, Psychology or any therapies, so my notes are representative of a lay- person’s perspective, based on his years of reading and observation. And thus I
rejoice in some perverse sense of freedom from any professional constraint in my speculation. Let me make it plain again that the present volume is in no way to be considered as a scientific work. My intention is purely to explain my thinking, and the conclusions that make sense to me. I must make it plain that in the long run, I will be perfectly happy to rethink any of the theories when new ones make more sense.
I guess I must advise the reader of one proviso here. Purists and Professionals will probably consider certain of my ideas and statements as being over-generalised and simplistic; and strictly speaking I don’t hesitate to plead guilty. Keep in mind that the term ‘Aspie’ is an Aspergers creation designed and hit upon to identify the AS individual from the inside, as it were. Similarly the term NT is an identification applied by us to those who are non-AS. Neither term can be described as scientific. They represent the way that AS folk think about themselves and their opposite numbers.
This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 16 March, 2010.