Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review: Born On A Blue Day

On last Sunday's hike, somebody asked me what the beauty mark in Silicon Valley was. I said that it's invisible, it's Asperger's Syndrome. I was only partly joking, because autism is on the rise in Silicon Valley.

Cynthia suggest that I read Born On A Blue Day to get a better understanding of Asperger's and how a high functioning Asperger's person works. This autobiography was a fascinating quick read.

The author, Daniel Tammet, was apparently featured in many TV shows and documentaries, and is a high functioning autistic. His opening chapters describes how he sees numbers, and how they combine and weave themselves when he performs computations, which is how he can do those computations so quickly: he's not so much performing computation as he is working images in his head and then reading off the resulting images as numbers. That's quite an amazing transform if you think about it.

Tammet does a great job of describing how he grew up, and the steps he took to overcome his disorder. The scene where he gives up his imaginary friend is moving, and worthy of a novel. The last few chapters of his book deals with his eventual success and fame. It seems as though he's succeeded beyond anybody's wildest dream, and his description of his memorization of Pi is gripping.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. I'm not that sure it gives me much insight as to how to deal with people with Asperger's (other than confirm for me that I don't have it), but it's a great story with many scenes that seem to come right out of a movie. Recommended.
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