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I have four children, two of whom have Asperger’s Syndrome. This is an autism spectrum disorder, often considered to be a “high functioning” form of autism. Indeed, there are some professionals in the field who refuse to make a distinction between HFA and AS.

For several years now I have, in the course of my studies and daily observations, thought “I’d be willing to bet he/she is on the spectrum somewhere.” Much speculation has been put forth about famous people who are supposed to have had autsitic characteristics, such as Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll), Irish statesman Eamon de Valera, Wolfgang Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Herman Melville, Isaac Newton, musician Syd Barrett, Nikola Tesla, and many others.

I am convinced that St. Thomas Aquinas would fall into this category were it possible to make such a determination today. (I refuse to say “diagnosis;” AS is not a disease, it is a different cognitive paradigm.) I am fairly certain that Soren Kierkegaard was similarly situated along the spectrum. The clinical psychologist with whom we have dealt regarding our children made a point that strikes me as quite profound: she believes that people with Asperger’s (colloquially, “Aspies”) have the kinds of minds which facilitate and greatly impact human development. Future problems require the kind of innovative thinking and atypical approaches which are so commonly associated with this and other such neurotypes.

 Please take a few moments this week to reflect on the struggles that Aspies and others like them encounter in daily life, in learning, in forming personal relationships, etc. Many of them are quite aware that they do not think or process information in the way that “normal” people do; they often attempt to construct socially-oriented coping strategies which, when considered, show remarkable empathy despite the apparent trouble many have with expressing it or like qualities, e.g. physical affection, customary conventions, etc.