I thank Amy Harmon for her gracious and restrained response to my far less restrained criticism of her article. She has persuasively rebutted my suggestion that she imaginatively supplied the details of how Kirsten and Jack intimately touched each other. The actual facts of her reportorial technique I find almost as strange, but I obviously have a very outdated sense of privacy.
Though Ms. Harmon is politely not challenging me on the larger points of my post, I would like to clarify that I do not object to “narrative non-fiction.” Ms. Harmon is absolutely right that a good reporter such as herself can reveal truths through talking to actual subjects not available through quantitative analysis, say. My puzzlement at her story was rather at its lack of any obvious public policy import. There are already many Asperger Syndrome support groups and chat groups. What other political or policy changes might follow from her article to justify its front-page treatment, I still don’t understand.
My choice of the phrase “syndroid” was an extremely poor one, and I apologize for any offense or hurt that I may have caused. I had no intention of invoking “android” or of conveying contempt. I was merely seeking ways to describe people with Asperger Syndrome with an economy of words, not knowing whether “people suffering from Asperger’s” would violate any political taboos, or whether “people living with Asperger’s” was a phrase in circulation. I should have been far more sensitive to the unpleasant implications of the solution that I chose.