Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nerds, Autism and So On

THE writer Ben Nugent just had a funny and serious op-ed on the New York Times about being falsely diagnosed, as a kid, with the form of autism often associated with musical and mathematical genius. ("FOR a brief, heady period in the history of autism spectrum diagnosis, in the late ’90s," the piece begins, "I had Asperger syndrome.") Turns out he was just an awkward, artsy teenager who had not found his tribe. It's really worth reading, whether you know anything about the condition or not. 

A few years back I spoke to Nugent, who I knew from his Elliott Smith bio and a story I'd written on songcraft, about his book American Nerd: The Story of My People. The book is a serious look at a despised and misunderstood figure -- one Nugent has long identified with. Here is my conversation with him. 

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