Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Nerds and non-conformists probably don't have Asperger Syndrome; are simply weird

An op-ed from yesterday's New York Times, "I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly" is on their list of most-read pieces. In it, the author describes how his symptoms of classic nerdiness in high school -- an obsession with literature, shyness, and a general difficulty with math and sports -- were mistaken as symptoms of Asperger Syndrome by his mother, who happened to be an Asperger expert.

A lot of his high school experience resonated with me -- sitting in his bedroom playing guitar and constantly reading novels, instead of playing with kids his age. But two things struck me. First, this sentence:

If I had been well-rounded enough to attain basic competence at a few sports, I wouldn't have provoked rage and contempt in other kids during gym and recess.

Rage and contempt, yes. I doubt he's exaggerating. The only difference in my own experience is that this sentence described my experience in grade school, not high school. By the time I got to high school, the school was so huge that there was room for kids who weren't good at sports. Me, I was in drama and the choir and the creative writing class. Being bad at sports didn't get you picked on; it just meant you were invisible -- which, given the other alternatives, is not the worst thing to be in high school.

The other thing that struck me was his bio at the end of the piece: Benjamin Nugent, the director of creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University, is the author of "American Nerd: The Story of My People." Oh really? Someone who was in high school in "the late 90s" is already the director of creative writing at a state university? I guess he's a little more high-performing than he realizes.

1 comment:

Sirenita Lake said...

I know I've been watching too much True Blood lately, but...maybe you're a fairy!