Valerie Paradiz, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN 184310802X, £12.95
STAR RATING: 4/5
One day Valerie Paradiz’s son, Elijah, drew 20 sketches of his
favourite cartoon character Yosemite Sam and carefully filled in
each one with a different colour chosen from a fresh box of 64
crayons. Paradiz was immediately struck by the resemblance to Andy
Warhol’s silk-screened reproductions of Campbell’s soup cans and
portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Elijah clearly shares with Warhol “an
autistic predilection for the serial and the literal”,
writes Michael Fitzpatrick.
Paradiz, a poetic writer, has come to recognise features of
Asperger’s syndrome in herself and now runs a specialist
educational unit for Asperger’s students.
She hails Warhol as “an unwitting pioneer of autistic emergence”.
Yet it may be that the enduring popularity of Warhol’s voyeuristic
cynicism – and indeed the current popular interest in autism –
reflects the regressive celebration of themes of alienation and
estrangement in contemporary culture. But if the “neurotypicals”
retreat to Planet Asperger, will this make it easier for us all to
live together on Planet Earth?
Michael Fitzpatrick is a GP, parent of an autistic child
and author of MMR and Autism: What Parents Need to