Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Parallel Play

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I, (Tim Page) was diagnosed with this autistic spectrum disorder in 2000, just after I crashed and burned as an administrator at the Saint Louis Symphony. I had gotten rather cocky in the late 1990s and really thought I could handle a job that would involve working closely with hundreds of people every day would be the natural next step after criticism. I couldn't and I returned to Washington in terrible shape.

The diagnosis was helpful in a lot of ways -- mostly in explaining some of the things that had proved difficult, sometimes even impossible, for most of my life. And I didn't exactly "give in" to the condition, but being aware that I had it helped me make smarter choices. It also helped to explain a weird childhood that included an easy mastery of all sorts of data -- the dates of every president and president's wife, which I could recite forwards or backwards upon request, an encyclopedic knowledge of silent films and old recordings -- yet also included an absolute inability to concentrate on subjects that didn't interest me. It was also enormously difficult for me to make friends, and overstimulation would send me into fairly frightening meltdowns.

These got better as I grew up and went around the block a few hundred times. For me, at least, Asperger's Syndrome was most debilitating during my youth. And yet there is no doubt that I am still affected by it today. I sometimes feel that I have spent my life in a state of parallel play (hence the title) -- alongside but disconnected from most of my fellow human beings. And it gets lonely sometimes.

Please click on a lettered box below. Each box corresponds to the following choices:

A) Funny. B) Informative. C) Clever. D) Disagree. E) Excellent. F) Frivolous.

1) Please place your cursor arrow onto the box with the letter that corresponds with your selection. 2) Please apply pressure with your right finger in a downward motion, until you hear a click. 3) A check mark will then appear, showing that you have voted. Congratulations! The counter for that box, will increment by your one vote (#). Please come back to look at the amount of votes for each choice.

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