Mardy asked Graeme Simsion:

I was shocked when I read some of the reviews that said you were making light of serious conditions such as Asperger's or Autism Spectrum. Because I did not equate Don's condition with any specifically identifiable condition but more or less like any guy bumbling through life and love doing the best with what they have to work with. Did the book ever say what it was?

Graeme Simsion Neither book says that Don has Asperger's (high functioning autism) but Claudia (in the first book) alludes to it and Lydia (in the second book) comes right out and says it. I didn't research Asperger's: Don is based on people I met in physics, information technology and doing a PhD, so don't consider myself qualified to diagnose him. BUT, experts in the field assure me that 'Don has Asperger's' and the Asperger's community say the same thing. It was not my intention to make light of Asperger's and the response from the Asperger's / ASD community has overall been very positive. I've been invited to speak at their events, and they regard Don as typical but not stereotypical. He's seen as a good role model: readers generally love him, and that's a good thing for the image of ASD. There's comedy, but I think there's also depth, if you want to go looking. My comedy mentor, Tim Ferguson is fond of saying "Make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, make 'em think" and argues (as I do) that comedy can tackle big subjects and often offer insight - and even change the minds of people who might not otherwise be receptive. Tim himsel f has multiple sclerosis and has a stand-up routine built around it - not making light, but making comedy.
The occasional complaint I've had has come from parents of kids with severe autism: kids who are unambigously disabled. Unfortunately, medical terminology lumps them and Don all in together. But Don would not consider himself disabled: he'd consider himself in a minority and his call would not be for a cure, but for acceptance.
And it's not all about Asperger's: most of us (particularly men) have a bit of Don in us!

Graeme Simsion

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