In 1978, under immense pressure at work, Edgar Schneider suffered a nervous breakdown. After convalescing, he returned to work, but within a few months he was again suffering from problems involving short-term memory and concentration. He was described as eccentric, tangential, illogical and hallucinatory; and misdiagnosed as schizophrenic.
Sixteen years later, the chance reading of an article on autistic savants alerted Schneider to the possibility that he had been misdiagnosed. This proved to be the case: he is believed to be a high-functioning autistic, with attention deficit disorder (ADD). Suddenly, many apparently paradoxical or inexplicable elements of Schneider's life made sense. He calls the discovery of his autism 'liberating'. Schneider attributes his autism to brain damage caused by infectious diseases in early childhood. In Discovering My Autism, he reflects on his experiences and his memories of his childhood and teenage years as a clever and artistic loner. He explains how in order to experience 'emotions' such as grief, sympathy or desire, he must intellectualise or aestheticise them. Dispassionately, he examines his difficulties with relationships, his high pain threshold, his lack of concentration and his highly absorbant intelligence, all of which are related to his autism. He also describes the pleasure he derives from art, music and literature; the importance to him of his religious beliefs; and his work with parents' support groups. As an account of how it feels to be a high-functioning autistic, this book should be read by parents of autistic children, professionals working with them, and people with autism, Asperger's Syndrome, or ADD themselves.
In this book, Schneider explains that the discovery of his autism has improved the quality of his life because it has enabled him to understand himself more clearly and to explain his characteristics to others, so that they, too, may understand him more clearly and the way he relate more clearly.
In writing this book, Schneider seeks to inform not only the nature of autism and difficulties faced by children and adults with autism, but also about the impact that the medical profession can have on individuals' lives, especially when inaccurate diagnoses are made. He also emphasizes, very strongly, the positive aspects of autism and their effects on his life. By this, I think that he is hoping to offer reassurance to adults and young people that it is possible to live a very successful and satisfying life, if only individuals can understand themselves/and the effect that their own autism is having on their personality and their relationships. -- Educational Psychology in Practice Reading Schneider's memoir, the argument about accommodating people with disabilities from a literacy standpoint kept running through my head. -- Disability Studies Quarterly Edgar Schneider is a highly articulate former mathematician and computer programmer. He discovered his autism in middle age, after being misdiagnosed as schizophrenic for many years. Schneider's detailed and dispassionate account of his autism deserves a wide audience. He explains his life as an emotional loner, his need to intellectualise feelings such as love in order to experience them, and his use of his self-knowledge to help others in a way that will inform and enlighten those concerned with high-functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome. He describes the implications of his emotional deficit, comparing it to a missing faculty such as blindness. It is a moving and inspiring book. By the end, one understands a great deal more about Schneider's 'country'. -- Times Educational Supplement Special Needs magazine I loved this book! I would recommend it to anyone looking for an inside view written from a fresh perspective. Not only does Ed give an inside view, but I learned many, many helpful things besides. If you liked Temple Grandin's books, you will love this one! -- FEAT The exceptional value of this book is not only that it offers an in-depth insight into autism through a first-hand testimony of someone who has been living with it but also in what it may lead us to discover. Hence it is highly recommendable to parents of autistic children, who may find some explanation as to why their children behave the way they do. It should be read by autistic individuals, who may see themselves in it, which will raise their awareness of who they are. It should also be read by clinicians and students of human communication and its disorders, because it will broaden their understanding of what their patients feel and experience, but may not always be able to talk about, and certainly researchers in the field will find it an excellent resource of challenge to the various theories of autism, the question of where the boundaries of the autistic spectrum are, the problems of generalizability, opening further paths as to how to approach and judge the writings of such highly able and intelligent individuals and how to define and specify the complex notion of "autism". -- Child Language Teaching and Therapy
Prologue. 1. The determining time period. 2. Aftermath. 3. Resolution, of a sort. 4. Suspicions. 5. A revelation. 6. Recap of a terrible period. 7. Correlating my past life. 8. An interesting aside. 9. My tastes. 10. What I mean by the word 'love'. 11. A missing faculty. 12. Two perilous characteristics. 13. Can 'heartless' pity be real? 14. Grief. 15. Death and the afterlife. 16. Solitude and loneliness. 17. Learning. 18. Values manufested during military service. 19. Interactions with others. 20. Art as an early outlet. 21. Religion. 22. Disclaimers about religion. 23. A perhaps dangerous characteristic. 24. The upshot of this self-discovery. 25. Is a future close relationship possible? 26. Waxing philosophical about 'love' among the non-autistic. 27. The emotional deficit. 28. Self-compensating. 29. Our own country. 30. Retrospect. 31. What I have tried to do here. 32. Conclusion. 33. Epilogue.