Sad story

I was browsing in a bookshop during the week and came across the autobiography of a well-known writer, who has been dead now for over a decade. I was struck by his description of his son, who had “normal” intelligence, but “could not keep a job because he could not get along with his fellow employees” and was now a “gentleman of leisure”, living off his father’s support and happy being alone with his TV and VCR.

I have, unfortunately, enough experience with and knowledge of autism to have my antennae prickle. The son was born only a few years after Kanner first identified autism as a syndrome in 1943 and Asperger identified his syndrome in 1944, but it sounds very like it to me (diagnosing someone I’ve never met from a half page of text written by an observer who was far from neutral). The father seemed, as I read it, to blame his son for some moral failing, rather than to take on board that this was a disability. It must have been grim for everyone involved and I’m not very surprised that the parents separated at the point when their son was in his late teens and clearly never going to live an independent economic existence.

The story has a rather grim twist, in that the son was busted a few years ago (long after his father’s death) for possession of child porn among his many videotapes. Interestingly, he was given a non-custodial sentence after psychiatric reports. Conspiracy theorists mutter that this was obviously due to a political fix thanks to the connections of his (by then long dead) father. I think it’s much more likely that the court psychiatrists made the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, or perhaps even autism, that should have been made decades before.

One thought on “Sad story

  1. *shhh*! Nicholas is the shadowy Foundation X. He’s actually trying to purchase NI off the government.

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