Monday, March 30, 2009

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

I've had this one on my radar since it was first released at the end of 2007. Mainly because the memoir is by the brother of Augusten Burroughs, an author who I truly admire. Augusten's memoir, Running With Scissors, is one of those books that I think about often and still marvel at the fact that it's a true story. These poor kids had such a screwed up childhood it's unbelievable that they even survived.

John Elder Robison has Asperger's syndrome, and was born in a time before this autistic syndrome was even recognized. His family just thought he was odd and ill-behaved. He had very few friends because his social skills were pitiful. He was very lonely. But John's brain was so high-functioning that he was a genius with mechanics and electronics. So much so that when he dropped out of high school (even with a huge IQ) he toured with KISS, creating special effects and guitars for the band. In his early 20s John realized he needed to get a "real" job and got pretty lucky considering he had no degree. Once the corporate world got the best of him, he began his own exotic automobile repair business, in which he is still highly successful. It wasn't until John was 40 that he was diagnosed with Asperger's.

I read this book in two days. Granted, I was in the desert basking in the sunshine, but nevertheless it was a quick read. I have a whole new understanding for people who may seem "weird" on the surface, but who are really struggling socially and physically.

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