Sunday, October 16, 2011

Look Me In the Eye: My Life With Asperger's by John Elder Robison

This book is Robison’s account of growing up undiagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.  He was not diagnosed until he was in his 40’s.  His writing is compelling and surprisingly emotional.  He himself says that he learned emotion.  That if the book had been written in his 20’s instead of in his 50’s it would have been colder.

His story tells of not getting along with other children in elementary school, failing classes in high school even though his IQ was extremely high.  He was very good with electronics and machinery:
“Many people with Asperger’s have an affinity for machines.  Sometimes I think I can relate better to a good machine than any type of person.  I’ve thought about why that is, and I’ve come up with a few ideas.  One is that I control the machines.  We don’t interact as equals.  No matter how big the machine, I am in charge.  Machines don’t talk back.  They are predictable.  They don’t trick me and they are never mean.”

He built special effect guitars for KISS in the late 70’s and was on tour with them.  He then got a job building electronic toys.  Then later, he started a high-end Auto Repair business.  He was very successful in business. 

He talks a lot about his relationships and how he learned to respond as was expected. From his insane parents, to his brother (Augusten Burroughs author of Running With Scissors), his first and second wife and his son. 

Overall, a very interesting insight into Asperger’s Syndrome. (Interesting note at the end of the paperback edition he tells of schools wanting to use his book to teach about Asperger’s and diversity, so he toned down the profanity in the paperback edition.  If you read the hardback edition, it remains as it was originally written.)

4 stars (Rated PG for theme)

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