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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Geier, Blogging, & Neurodiversity

If, like me, you don't know much about autism, let me explain where the cosmic justice comes in: One form of the wide-ranging developmental disorder, on the high-functioning, high-verbal end of it, is Asperger's syndrome, which among other things is characterized by a tendency to obsess on a single subject.

Geier happened to become that subject for Kathleen Seidel.

"I'm the kind of person once my brain kicks in, I just go hog wild," says Seidel, a blogger who lives in New Hampshire. "For me, it's like putting together a big puzzle."

Seidel has a college-aged child who was diagnosed with Asperger's, and considers herself on the spectrum as well. With a master's in library science, she tends to meticulously research her obsessions and, after seeing references to Geier's work on some autism-related websites, started to investigate him about five years ago.


Seidel's investigation resulted in a 16-part takedown of the Geiers on her blog,, that was widely circulated and drew renewed attention this week when the news hit that Maryland suspended his medical license.
For Seidel, the suspension of Geier's license — he has the right to an appeals process, starting with a hearing before the board on Wednesday — offers some vindication. She's tangled, at least through the media, with Geier and others who have dismissed her work, saying she's not a doctor.

No, she's simply part of the "Aspie" community. And indeed, even by phone, you see why interacting with them can be both engaging and somewhat tiring. Seidel speaks in whole paragraphs — footnotes even, if you can imagine that in an entirely verbal exchange — and calls back a couple of times to make what were already good points better.

"I'm grateful," she says of the Maryland board's action. "It's not just me out there saying this is awful. It's not just me, a blogger. The professionals have paid attention, a whole table-full of doctors putting their intellect to work."