I am intrigued by the brain. I have gotten more interested over time as I have watched my parents struggle with forms of dementia. While heartbreaking, it is also so amazing to see how each day can bring differences.
There has been so much on the news about autism spectrum disorders. In my lifetime, the first exposure might have been the movie Rainman or watching interviews on news shows with someone with savant syndrome. But now there are frequently articles about the rise in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.
So, it was with interest that I read the book The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch. The subtitle for the book is “A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and one Man’s Quest to be a Better Husband.”
David Finch was always a bit different. Not everyone realized how different but there were signs that his mind did not work the same way that most people’s. He and Kristen met in high school and were best friends. They hung out and enjoyed the same things. As will happen, they grew apart but then due to a variety of circumstances their relationship grew after college and they married. David had a good job as an engineer and Kristen worked as a speech therapist. But after five years and two children, the marriage was just not going well. They were both unhappy. One night, Kristen asked David to come down to her office and take a test. After going through the lengthy quiz, David’s score for Asperger Syndrome was very high. (Kisten was not diagnosing him – he then went to an unrelated professional for evaluation and diagnosis.)
The diagnosis was extremely helpful for them. David particularly took it to heart and started writing down notes about the things that he needed to improve to help their relationship. The perhaps most quoted note was “not to turn off the radio when Kristen is singing along with the song.” The collection of notes and thoughts became his “Journal of Best Practices.” Things that he found that he needed to learn or change to make him a better husband for Kristen.
This book is fascinating. I found it so interesting that David could explain so well how his mind worked and the things that he would do to prepare for his everyday life. He referred to himself as a chameleon. He would observe behaviors and then copy those behaviors to be able to fit in to his surroundings. Imagine trying to script out every part of your daily life ahead of time. It would be exhausting.
He can explain his lack of comprehension for parts of everyday life and how what he could change to make their relationship better. Parts of the book are funny and in other parts it is easy to see how hard it is for David and Kristen. He is trying so hard and sometimes he just needs to back off.
Overall, it is the portrait of two people who love each other trying to work with their differences.
Thanks for reading!