Asperger’s symptoms have their perks, according to Tom Angleberger, who attributes his career as an author of children’s books to his Asperger’s symptoms.
Best known for the Origami Yoda series, Angleberger admits that while there are things that he, like many Aspies, has trouble doing, such as making eye contact, and that sometimes he can barely function, he says that one thing that comes easy to him is the spewing of words, pictures and origami about Star Wars and middle school disasters.
In a blog published earlier this month on the Disability in KidLit blogsite, Angleberger says that he likes to tell kids that Asperger’s symptoms are his superpower, which he says is an easy way to explain “all this ability/disability/syndrome stuff.” Of the term Asperger’s, he says it is useful to describe “being somewhere way down the spectrum/multiverse from neurotypical.”
But Angleberger says his “number one Asperger’s symptom trait” is his non-stop word flow. He says, “As Dr. Temple Grandin might explain it, there are way too many wires running from the word department to the mouth department.”
He recalls his school days as “tumultuous,” describing them as “running my mouth + bad social skills = awkward situations. Awkward situations * bad social skills = humiliations, meltdowns, or both.”
He realized it was far better to occupy himself with his hyperinterests of folding origami or doodling or watching Star Wars. Eventually, he hit upon a way to put all of that together. He directs the word flow into a computer and writes books about kids who “fold/draw/watch Star Wars and have awkward situations/humiliations/meltdowns. . .and triumphant victories on a regular basis.”
As he writes on his website, “I’m not necessarily all that creative. I’m more of a puzzle putter together. I take all these little puzzle pieces — Yoda, middle school problems, Cheetos — and I fuss and fuss with them until I fit them together.”
Angleberger says he doesn’t know what he’d be doing if he didn’t have Asperger’s Syndrome, but “I wouldn’t be doing this,” he says. “I couldn’t be doing this. And I love what I’m doing. It’s the best job ever and I’m glad I’m able to do it!”