Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
Look Me in the Eye My Life with Asperger's Author:John Elder Robison Ever since he was small, John Robison had longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non-sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” No guid... more »ance came from his mother, who conversed with light fixtures, or his father, who spent evenings pickling himself in sherry. It was no wonder he gravitated to machines, which could, at least, be counted on.
After fleeing his parents and dropping out of high school, his savant-like ability to visualize electronic circuits landed him a gig with KISS, for whom he created their legendary fire-breathing guitars. Later, he drifted into a “real” job, as an engineer for a major toy company. But the higher Robison rose in the company, the more he had to pretend to be “normal” and do what he simply couldn’t: communicate. It wasn’t worth the paycheck.
It was not until he was forty that an insightful therapist told him he had the form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way Robison saw himself—and the world.
Look Me in the Eye is the moving, darkly funny story of growing up with Asperger’s at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. A born storyteller, Robison takes you inside the head of a boy whom teachers and other adults regarded as “defective,” who could not avail himself of KISS’s endless supply of groupies, and who still has a peculiar aversion to using people’s given names (he calls his wife “Unit Two”). He also provides a fascinating reverse angle on the younger brother he left at the mercy of their nutty parents—the boy who would later change his name to Augusten Burroughs and write the bestselling memoir Running with Scissors.
Ultimately, this is the story of Robison’s journey from his world into ours, and his new life as a husband, father, and successful small business owner—repairing his beloved high-end automobiles. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien, yet always deeply human.
Now I know why my own son doesn't look me in the eye.
This book is very telling. I think it's because the author is looking back and didn't know when he was growing up that he has Asperger's.
It really helps me understand the little "things" that make my son tick. And I know now that he really doesn't have to look someone in the eye to be listening. It also gave me a better understanding of how your child can seem neurotypical but still has those moments when you (and everyone around you) know better. It also helps me feel better in knowing that my son can grow up and be successful.
I recommend for anyone who is dealing with Asperger's in their life.
Look Me in the Eye is John Elder Robison's memoir of his experiences as a person with Asperger's Syndrome. The early chapters are the most difficult to read, as Robison describes growing up in a family with alcoholism, physical abuse and mental illness. Fortunately he omits most of the more disturbing experiences described by younger brother Augusten Borrough in his memoir "Running with Scissors," but the added challenges Robinson faces because of his condition make the story even more poignant.
Once Robison leaves home and slowly begins learning how to interact in a socially acceptable way, Look Me in the Eye becomes a fun and interesting read. The author's stories of being on tour with KISS and working in R&D for a toy company show what a talented person he is. Though it starts out bleak, Look Me in the Eye is ultimately a happy story as Robison is able to forgive his parents and find a wife who appreciates who he is.
Purists be warned: this paperback edition was edited to make it more appropriate for the teenage audience it has found. Seek out the hardback edition if you want the swearing intact.
Fantastic memoir! Engaging...informative...humorous. My son has a touch of Asperger's and this helps me to understand yet it entertains at the same time. This is a must read for anyone trying to wrap their head around the whole concept of autism spectrum diagnoses, more specifically Asperger's.
Anybody who has a family member diagnosed with Aspergers should read this book. Mr. Robison lived knowing that he was different from most people but until he was in his sixties he didn't know that the 'difference' has a name. A most courageous man.