Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
Penguin Random House Australia, Aug 1, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
'... as heartfelt a memoir as one could find, utterly unspoiled, uninfluenced, and original.' - Augusten Burroughs
A New York Times and Australian bestseller, Look Me In The Eye tells of a child's heartbreaking desperation to connect with others, and his struggle to pass as 'normal' -- a struggle that would continue into adulthood.
By the time he was a teenager, John Elder Robison's odd habits -- such as a tendency to obsessively dismantle radios and dig five-foot holes (and stick his little brother in them) -- had earned him the label 'social deviant'. No guidance came from his mother, who conversed with light fixtures, or his father, who spent the evenings drinking. Small wonder Robison gravitated to machines, which could, at least, be counted on. It was not until he was forty that an insightful therapist told Robison he had the form of autism called Asperger's syndrome, transforming the way Robison saw himself -- and the world.
Look Me In The Eye is Robison's moving and blackly funny story of growing up with Asperger's syndrome at a time when the diagnosis didn't even exist. A born storyteller, Robison takes us inside the head of a boy whom teachers and other adults regarded as defective and who still has a peculiar aversion to using people's given names (he calls his wife Unit Two). He also provides a fascinating angle on the younger brother he left at the mercy of their nutty parents -- the boy who would grow up to write Running with Scissors. Above all, you'll marvel at the way Robison overcame the restrictions of Asperger's to gain the connection he always craved: as a husband and father.
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Asperger's is a strange and painful form of autism. With the rise in autism, it is poignant for everyone to gain insight into the underlying cause for strange "aspergian" behavior. As "high functioning" autistics, individuals with Asperger's syndrome are particularly difficult to understand. Their behavior is often misinterpreted because it can be subtle rather than obvious deviation from social norms. The sufferers feel isolated, anxious, and frustrated. Reading about Robison's experiences helps sufferers relate some of their behaviors back to the cause. Robison's unique voice allows sufferers to relate to his experience and helps others to understand why Asperger's sufferers seem so 'off'. Through Robison's narrative, it is possible to see that these unique individuals can be wonderful and uniquely creative members of society.