Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s

John Elder Robison, Author
John Elder Robison, Author , foreword by Augusten Burroughs. Crown $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-39598-6
Reviewed on: 07/09/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
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Robison’s thoughtful and thoroughly memorable account of living with Asperger’s syndrome is assured of media attention (and sales) due in part to his brother Augusten Burroughs’s brief but fascinating description of Robison in Running with Scissors . But Robison’s story is much more fully detailed in this moving memoir, beginning with his painful childhood, his abusive alcoholic father and his mentally disturbed mother. Robison describes how from nursery school on he could not communicate effectively with others, something his brain “is not wired to do,” since kids with Asperger’s don’t recognize “common social cues” and “body language or facial expressions.” Failing in junior high, Robison was encouraged by some audiovisual teachers to fix their broken equipment, and he discovered a more comfortable world of machines and circuits, “of muted colors, soft light, and mechanical perfection.” This led to jobs (and many hilarious events) in worlds where strange behavior is seen as normal: developing intricate rocket-shooting guitars for the rock band Kiss and computerized toys for the Milton Bradley company. Finally, at age 40, while Robison was running a successful business repairing high-end cars, a therapist correctly diagnosed him as having Asperger’s. In the end, Robison succeeds in his goal of “helping those who are struggling to grow up or live with Asperger’s” to see how it “is not a disease” but “a way of being” that needs no cure except understanding and encouragement from others. (Sept.)

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