My brother and I have sometimes wondered whether my mother had Aspberger’s or autism. Perhaps all children wonder this about their parents. Or wonder, at least, what it is that makes them so difficult. In any case, my mother had acute hearing and eyesight, and small things out of order could enrage her. That sensory supersensitivity, combined with what seemed to us an emotional insensitivity to our feelings, is what got us to thinking. Add to that her language: she was hyperliterate but distant in her speech, as if she had learned to speak by reading translations rather than the original works.
Lately autism and Aspberger’s have been in the news, including a Time magazine article about why these disorders are increasingly common, along with a detailed description of each. “I think I have Aspberger’s!” my mom exclaimed the other day after reading the Time article. But here’s the thing: Doesn’t the level of self-awareness required to think you have Aspberger’s automatically disqualify you from having it?