Ex-Ballplayer's Wife Diagnoses Steven Spielberg with Asperger's Syndrome
Hoo boy. Let's hear it for Shonda Schilling, wife of three-time World Series champion and future Hall of Fame pitcher Curt Schilling, who joined her husband last weekend on NPR to promote their new book The Best Kind of Different: Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome. The Schillings are parents of a 10-year-old son, Grant, who was diagnosed with the disorder when he was 6. Which, as Mrs. Schilling noted last week on the air, places the young man in the company of such high-functioning autistics as Steven Spielberg. Wow! Who knew? Well, nobody, in fact -- because it's not true.
NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon had either a pretty small or pretty credulous audience last Saturday, when nobody bothered to challenge the following exchange after it took place:
SIMON: I don't want us to lose sight of the fact that, well, according to scholarly reports, it's possible that Einstein, Ben Franklin, Napoleon, Lincoln, Harry Truman might've all had Asperger's Syndrome.
Ms. SCHILLING: Well, Steven Spielberg has Asperger's.
Mr. SCHILLING: Yeah. It's one of the things, I think, that we both talked about when the diagnosis was handed to us and we started to really understand what it was. Puzzle pieces just kind of fell into place. You know, those temper tantrums in the grocery store.
Oh, of course. You know, those big-budget bombs like 1941, those weird diversions like Hook or Always... they had to have explanations along the autism spectrum or somewhere in the filmmaker's neurology. Once treated, we got Schindler's List, right? Anyone?
Well, no. Apparently this is a wild Internet rumor that's been going around for a few years. Mrs. Schilling appears to have bought in. Anne Thompson, though? Not so much; she reached out to Spielberg's people, who came back with a straight denial. Orlando Sentinel film critic Roger Moore expressed a little more frustration with Simon for not challenging Schilling's assertion at the time; in fact, the only follow-up Simon posted at all was his tweet, "Boy, I liked Curt and Shonda Schilling. Seem very genuine and committed to the right things--a perspective that must be hard in majors[...]"
I don't doubt it, but come on. "Steven Spielberg has Asperger's." Not very genuine.