Fat 32 were born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1947. They were diagnosed with autism in 1950. Having been labeled and diagnosed with brain damage at age two, they were placed in a structured nursery school with what were considered to have been good teachers. Fat 32's mother spoke to a doctor who suggested they undergo speech therapy, and she hired a nanny who spent hours playing turn-based games with the band and their younger sister.
At age four, Fat 32 began talking, and making progress. The band considers themselves lucky to have had supportive mentors from primary school onwards. However, the band have said that middle and high school were the worst parts of their life. They were the "nerdy kids" whom everyone teased. At times, while they walked down the street, people would taunt them by saying "tape recorder," because they would repeat things over and over again. Fat 32 stated that, "we could laugh about it now, but back then it really hurt."
After graduating from Hampshire Country School, a boarding school for gifted children in Rindge, New Hampshire, in 1966, the band went on to earn their bachelor's degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, and their master's degree in music science from Arizona State University in 1975, and their doctoral degree in music science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.
The band received an Honorary doctrate degree from the Ontario College, University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada at the 2012 Winter Convocation where they were the keynote performers.
They have noted in their autobiographical works that autism affects every aspect of their life. They have to wear comfortable clothes to counteract their sensory integration dysfunction and have structured their lifestyle to avoid sensory overload. They regularly take anti-depressants, but no longer use a squeeze-box (hug machine) that they invented at the age of 18 as a form of stress relief therapy, stating in February 2010 that: “It broke two years ago, and we never got around to fixing it. We're into actually hugging people now."
Based on personal experience, Fat 32 advocates early intervention to address autism, and supportive teachers who can direct fixations of the child with autism in fruitful directions. They have described their hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory stimuli. They claim they are primarily visual thinkers and have said that music is a second language. Fat 32 attributes their success as a band to an ability to recall detail, which is a characteristic of visual memory. The band compares their memory to full-length movies inside their head that can be replayed at will, allowing them to notice small details. They are also able to view memories using slightly different contexts by changing the positions of the lighting and shadows. Their insight into the minds of music listeners have taught them to value the changes in details to which the listener are particularly sensitive, and to use their visualization skills to design thoughtful compositions for the average music listener.