The central factor in Jonathan's struggle was Asperger Syndrome-a truly sinister mental illness that scars its victims with the social deficits of autism. The manifestations are varied but our son was utterly incapable of navigating social life. He craved friendships but his life was a series of rejections. To make matters worse, he was bereft of what psychologists call "executive function", a cognitive ability that is so basic it is only noticeable in its absence. Jonathan was easily confused and frustrated by the simplest tasks; school was out of the question without intensive support. As any kid he had a burning desire to belong, to fit in, and to achieve independence. Asperger Syndrome dealt him a life of difference, exclusion, and dependence.
The cruelty of this disorder is that he knew it. Jonathan was exceptionally intelligent and painfully aware of his limitations. Subject the average kid to the travails of our little boy and he would end up in a penitentiary. But by dint of his character and force of will, Jonathan outran his prognosis. He was not supposed to graduate high school, but he earned a college degree. He lacked skills to foster close human bonds, but found love in a committed relationship. His employment prospects were limited, but he managed to ply his trade as a web designer with a leading company.
We are proud of what Jonathan accomplished, but more proud of the kind of man he became. Against all odds, Jonathan preserved his humanity. He grew into a kind and sensitive adult, who championed the underdog and shared our disgust for bullies.
A parent's pride can turn the commonplace into the extraordinary but think about this: Jonathan performed standup comedy routines in LA clubs. How much courage did that take? And after a lifetime of struggles and painful disappointments, what are the chances of maintaining a sense of humor? (He was very funny!)
So what went wrong? To make a very long story short, there are limits to what any human can endure and Jonathan hit his. His decision to end his life was not precipitated by any particular event. Although Jonathan also had Bipolar Disorder and suffered from debilitating anxiety and depression, he did not act on a psychotic impulse. Rather, he made a sober assessment of his life and his future prospects, and decided he would not achieve happiness and inner peace in this world. We know that because of Jonathan's last act of courage and generosity; he mustered his formidable skills as a writer and told us. In three short paragraphs he set us on a path to heal, and confirmed our belief that he was the strongest person we have ever known. Words cannot express how badly we miss him.