By Peter Szatmari MD
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Extra resources for A Mind Apart: Understanding Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome
As such, it provides Justin with genuine pleasure. Justin gets bored by other things, to be sure. But these are often the 30 A MIND APART things that so interest ordinary people: novels, TV drama (but not sitcoms or comedy like the Three Stooges, which he loves), stories of general interest, and history; in other words, events that involve people, their social relationships, and their emotions. That is boring for Justin, not the sound of rain and thunder. ” he asks me innocently. I suspect there must be a neurology of boredom; there must be a place or, more precisely, a set of neural circuits, in the brain where boredom is experienced.
A group of children are gathered by the outdoor gym equipment. Some are playing on the slide, shrieking with delight, or hanging upside down pretending to be monkeys and making silly sounds. The mother focuses on that scene, knowing her daughter loves to swing and to spin on the tire. But there’s no sign of the child who left the apartment this morning and boarded the school bus in her green coat and her cap pulled down firmly over her ears so that she could barely see, all snug against the chill November wind.
It is a dark space, full of shadows and uncertainty. Like Bluebeard’s castle, parents fear that danger and disappointment lurk behind every door. Each possibility for the future may look more grim than the last, and perhaps the greatest fear is that one’s child has been snatched away, kidnapped by some mysterious biological process. Into this space, this book is meant to find a place. Hopefully, these pages will open a window to let air and light into that dark room. The thread that ties these stories together is that the sense of exile from one’s child that parents feel is the result of not understanding ASD and how it affects the experience of childhood.