Gary Numan - his life with Asperger's Syndrome

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Art Fag
Gary Numan … My family values

Guardian UK

Angela Wintle

May 5, 2012

Gary Numan: 'My parents sent me to a child psychologist, who suggested I might have Asperger’s syndrome.' Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

I have nothing but happy memories of my parents. From the moment I was born, I was made to feel special. I grew up in a village near Heathrow airport. I didn't see much of Dad until I was about five because he was always working, trying to improve our lot. But though money was scarce, my parents never put pressure on me to get a proper job – far from it. I didn't realise it at the time, but they sank their life savings into buying music equipment to get me started.

I was a loner as a child and happiest at home, launching toy rockets and aeroplanes. When I started causing trouble in my third year at grammar school, Mum was really surprised. My parents sent me to a child psychologist, who suggested I might have Asperger's syndrome. Mum found that offensive, thinking it was a slur on her parenting, but it just wasn't understood. I was prescribed Valium, among other drugs, and the treatment fizzled out. But I was still expelled from school.

In 1979, I shot to fame when Are "Friends" Electric? , my first single, reached No 1 in the UK charts. It was a scary and exciting time – and my parents' lives changed just as much as mine. One morning, Dad found a petrol bomb under his car, no doubt intended for me. And a newspaper said my parents should have been doctored for giving birth to me. That was really quite offensive to people who had nothing to do with my career.

I have one brother, John , an airline pilot, who is seven years younger. He's adopted, though we're still blood related – he's my cousin. My parents couldn't have any more children after me, so when Dad's brother died, they adopted John, then just a baby. We have a lot in common: he played sax and keyboard in my band for years and we were both in the same air-display team.

I met Gemma, my wife , when she was 12. She had a schoolgirl crush on me and her dad had arranged for her to meet me. Later, she started coming to my concerts, but I only got to know her well after her mother died. I rang to see how she was, and that's how it started. She's incredibly thoughtful and intelligent. I was riddled with self-doubt when we got together and thought my music career was finished – she got me to accept that a lot of people liked what I did.

Gemma spotted my Asperger's right away because her brother has it. I'm hopeless at small talk and have a problem making eye contact. That's why Gemma is so brilliant, because she talks for me. In social situations, I willingly step into her shadow. If we're out and she leaves me alone for a few minutes, I panic.

We were told we couldn't have children naturally because we had some unexplained infertility, so we went down the IVF route. Gemma got pregnant first time and we couldn't believe our luck, but she miscarried at three months, which was horrible. We tried again many times without success, but then Raven came along (though her twin died), followed by Persia and Echo.

Before the girls were born , life was all about me and what I could get out of it. Now I'm the most unselfish person you could wish to meet. I'm a very hands-on dad and everything I do is for the children. I make their breakfast, prepare their sandwiches for school and read them bedtime stories. We do everything together.
Art Fag

Numan is a neat fellow. Not really sure what the car bomb story is about but he was criticized early in his career since he stated that he had voted for Thatcher. His reasoning was pretty simple though, hardly ideological: I don't want to pay exorbitant taxes, the money I earn is my own. Nevertheless, he has since been associated with Pop Thatcherism .

The real story, however, is the uncanny similarities between British hacker Gary McKinnon and Gary Numan. As I wrote back in September of 2009:

After all, what was McKinnon's hack but praying to the aliens ?