Parallel Lives of People Diagnosed With Asperger's Syndrome

"… My life has been spent in a perpetual state of parallel play, alongside, but distinctly apart from, the rest of humanity." With that statement, Tim Page, diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of forty-five, descriptively summarizes his life. In this autobiographical account, Mr. Page writes of growing up, all the time deeply feeling and realizing he was different. People said he was a genius because he could memorize maps, knew all the bus routes and memorized parts of the World Book Encyclopedia. He spent hours drawing detailed maps of make-believe cities and writing stories without happy endings. He related to and cared for inanimate objects; his stuffed animals were his best friends.

Throughout his life Tim Page felt self-conscious. He felt he did not fit in. He could not easily or effectively relate socially to his classmates; he could not establish connections. Tim felt much more comfortable being around adults or younger children.

At a very early age he became obsessed with music which led him to becoming a music critic for several newspapers and eventually leading to a Pulitzer Prize in 1997. Also at an early age he became obsessed with silent films. That obsession led to researching the lives of actors and actresses and writing creative stories with invented actors and actresses. In the sixth grade Tim bought some 8mm film, borrowed his father's home-movie camera, wrote scripts and directed movies with the neighborhood kids.

Growing up, Tim felt distanced from and not very close to his father. But in packing his father's files when the family decided to move, Tim read the contents of some of the files and discovered a letter he was not aware of that his father had written on his behalf nine years earlier when he had been in 7th grade. The letter had been written with reference to a school discipline problem and the punishment imposed on Tim. In reading the letter Tim became emotional as he realized and acutely sensed his father's love. He states he wishes his father could have communicated "such tender emotions" to him at the time of the incident.

Mr. Page vividly relates the turmoil and turbulence experienced and felt during his high school years, finally resulting in dropping out. Eventually, through the dedication and help of a music instructor Tim was able to successfully move on with his life.

Now in his fifties, Tim Page continues to view himself as "strange." As he looked back through the years when writing his life's story, he realized life for him was "isolated, unhappy, and conflicted."

Mr. Page's autobiographical portrayal adds to the minute, but expanding number of detailed narratives describing life for individuals with an Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis. This well-written and fascinating autobiography adds to the increasingly deeper and wider knowledge base of Asperger's Syndrome, a specific neurological difference in some human beings.

This informative book is highly recommended reading for anyone with a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, for families with an individual who carries such a diagnosis, for acquaintances of people so diagnosed and for other people interested in further understanding the lives of people diagnosed with the neurological difference , Asperger's Syndrome.

Parallel Play by Tim Page, a professor of journalism and music Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., 2009, 197 pages