What's new with Janey
10 February 2013

Aspergers and never Having read a Book

Imagine never having read anything more than a bank statement and even then having trouble getting into it.

Slowly picking your way through the numbers and trying to make sense of the words, knowing full well you cannot understand them and then have to fake your way out of that situation in meetings with people who take reading and writing for granted. You can run a business successfully but you can’t understand the terms of business that’s written down in front of you, but you can memorise the words for later discussion. This is how some people live.

My husband had undiagnosed Aspergers most of his adult life (being recently diagnosed), meaning he coped and not only coped but set in place various strategies to get round his dyslexia and anti social behaviour. 

His achievements at this have to be admired, unlike other socially inept people (like me) who bluster and excuse their way through life, he manages to avoid, control and above all allow other people to make social faux pas without recrimination or judgement (something am not good at). Aspergers, dyslexia and social awkwardness are common, infuriating difficult bedfellows. He copes daily with this. Though it’s worth noting that not all dyslexics have Aspergers or vice versa, this is just his experience.

My husband had never read a book. I wrote a book, it became a best seller, he can’t read it. Then one day he was offered the Listening Books Scheme online and spotted audio books at the local library. This totally changed his life.

The local library are aware he has reading problems and yet they are increasingly helpful and patient. Even when my husband issues a constant verbal complaint that some of his favourite modern crime books are filed under ‘historic crime’ when they aren’t OR when a series of books is in the library and they fail to tell you that this is number 6 of a series of 10…that makes people with Aspergers fractious and repetitive about this issue, in fact he is repeating it again as I write this.

Yet despite these tiny problems (he just asked me to refrain from calling it a tiny problem as it’s a huge problem and needs attention) he finally gets to ‘read’ books. He has devoured the classics, the man is an expert on Ancient Rome, The History of London and everything that Dickens ever wrote. I am immensely proud of him. We now share and recommend books in our house.
It warms my heart to see him discuss the plot of a book with our daughter who has been a voracious reader from age 4 years old. She used to read to her dad. I cannot tell you how much the listening books scheme and audio section of the local library have changed my husband’s life. He goes nowhere without his latest audio book and can happily switch off from life and lose himself in  good book, something I had taken for granted since I was a child.

We go to the library together and I attempt to read the synopsis out and before I can even start, he looks at the image and can tell me in seconds if he has read it, such is his ability to use memory imagery. 

Then he can tell me the whole plot of the book by remembering the colours and fonts they used on the cover. Aspergers is amazing.
Audio books and the Listening Book Scheme online are a life changer for us, I just wanted to write about this and let the library people and the Listening Book Scheme people know that. Thanks.


1 Response

  1. Wow, I take it he is ok? When I realized you were writing something nice about him, I assumed he was either seriously ill or had passed away! 😉
    Not that you never say nice things about him, just not usually at such length.
    Anyways, I wish to continue this vein of compliments. This was a beautiful piece and I enjoyed every word.