This post is in the Musicians category

Dear Reader

David Byrne from the band Talking Heads indicated in a blog that he believes he was “borderline Asperger’s” as a young man (Byrne, 2006). In discussion with Daniel Levitin (Levitin, 2007) who says “I think that about myself sometimes” he suggests that “maybe I grew out of it. When I read this I thought, “rubbish – you didn’t grow out of it , you got used to it – like I have”.

I saw an interview with Byrne made in the late eighties (Benz, 1989) and another much more recently.  The signs are still the same – wooden expression, inconsistent eye contact, black-and-white statements. This idea that autism is something you can grow out of seems a bit incongruous. Temple Grandin was originally diagnosed autistic, but is now described as Asperger. It would appear that the diagnosis is partly based on the idea of impact on a person’s life, rather than a true cognitive profile. The additional caveat Asperger’s Syndrome (residual) makes more sense to me. For example, my scores from the Cambridge EQ / AQ tests (Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Robinson, & Woodbury-Smith, 2005) and the IRI (Davis, 1980; Rogers, Dziobek, Hassenstab, Wolf, & Convit, 2006) indicate very low empathy (9 on the EQ scale and very low in the pre-cognitive affective dimensions of the IRI), I work very hard on being a compassionate person. My ability to recognise emotion in other through cognitive means has almost certainly fine-tuned over the years, for example I studied body language texts – Alan Pease (1981) and Desmond Morris (1977) in my teens, long before I knew about Asperger’s.

I’m still Aspie – but I’m alright.

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