How to be Human: An Autistic Man's Guide to Life

Jory Fleming with Lyric Winik. Simon & Schuster, $26 (192p) ISBN 978-1-501-18050-7
Fleming, a Rhodes Scholar who is on the autism spectrum, challenges societal assumptions around the subject in an illuminating extended conversation with writer Winik. Though Fleming struggles to process external stimuli that often overwhelm him—including the language and emotions of neurotypical people—he puts in extra effort to listen to and empathize with others, resulting in a "sophisticated and self-aware" approach that others might learn from. "The small number of us out there who think differently, whether it's from autism or some other reason, might have something valuable to bring to the discussion," Fleming writes. Autism has its advantages, he argues, including "not being easily influenced by emotion." Fleming also notes how, though it doesn't come naturally to him, he is sensitive to others' emotional needs and has a strong sense of public service, regarding himself as a "ruthless" optimist who believes "world problems, environmental problems, social problems" can be solved. Fleming sets a high bar, but he doesn't consider himself to be a role model. "I don't think role models are always a good idea, because everybody is unique." Fleming's insights intrigue and inspire. Agent: Binky Urban, ICM Partners. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/24/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-4483-7
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