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Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's [Kindle Edition]

John Elder Robison
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (717 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $8.21
You Save: $6.74 (45%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“As sweet and funny and sad and true and heartfelt a memoir as one could find.” —from the foreword by Augusten Burroughs

Ever since he was young, John Robison 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, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* If one looked at only Robison's impish sense of humor (he once ordered a blow-up sex doll to be delivered to his junior-high-school teacher—at school), or his success as a classic-car restorer, it might be impossible to believe he has the high-functioning form of autism spectrum disorder called Asperger's syndrome. Clues abound, however, in his account of a youth encompassing serious inability to make and keep friends; early genius at pyrotechnics, electronics, and math; and pet names such as Poodle for his dog and Snort and Varmint for his baby brother. Much later, he calls his wife Unit Two. It is easy to recognize these telltale traits today, but Robison went undiagnosed until he was 40. In the 1960s, he was variously labeled lazy, weird, and, worse, sociopathic. Consequently, his childhood memories too often read like a kid's worst nightmares. Not only did his parents fail to understand the root of his socialization problems but they were also virtually as dysfunctional as the pair Augusten Burroughs portrays in Running with Scissors (2002). 'Nough said? Not nearly. Robison's memoir is must reading for its unblinking (as only an Aspergian can) glimpse into the life of a person who had to wait decades for the medical community to catch up with him. Chavez, Donna

Product Details

  • File Size: 1432 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307396185
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000W91562
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,632 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
175 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Satisfying and Thought-Provoking Memoir September 26, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison mainly because I was enticed by reviews and interviews to explore the mind of someone who (because of Asperger's Syndrome) thinks a bit differently from us so-called "regular" folks. The book centers on John's struggle to become socially and economically successful as a person with Asperger's Syndrome. His condition wasn't diagnosed until he turned 40.

The two main things about this book that stood out for me (from beginning to end) were: (1) Mr. Robison doesn't give many clues about how he expects the reader to react to his stories. In other words, you get to make your own judgments - whether about his legal and illegal pranks or about his decision to not get involved with groupies (for two examples). He doesn't spend much time defending his behavior and he isn't dogmatic about what's right and what's wrong. (2) He thinks a lot and in unusual ways. As I read about his sometimes-elaborate thought processes, I remembered what a friend told me long ago: "If you're confused, good! It means you're thinking!" And I pondered some of the social conflicts in my own life caused by what others have characterized as "thinking too much."

In chapter 26 "Units One Through Three," Mr. Robison hilariously describes in frank terms the thought processes he went through when choosing his wife. ("Choosing" isn't the right word, but I promised myself I wouldn't write any spoilers into my review.) Here's a short sample from the book, from chapter 26, about his logic concerning choosing a wife: "Unfortunately, when picking a mate from a set of three sisters, it is usually necessary to establish a relationship with one in order to meet the other two.
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452 of 511 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
A warning about this book: Asperger's Syndrome is not quite what the author makes it out to be. If you were to only learn about the diagnosis from this memoir, here is what you might expect: "symptoms" that include amazingly innovative genius and a life of non-stop social and financial success.

The author: 1. makes numerous friends during adolescence, finding (as he describes it) acceptance and comfort in the music scene of his community. 2. makes a romantic connection during this time, sustaining a long-term relationship, including (later) marriage and a child. 4. states that he does not like small talk, does not like change. When does he become aware of this? As he is on tour with the worlds biggest rock band (He is reminded of his small-talk aversion later in the book...when he succeeds in the corporate world, functioning as both a creative asset and supervisor.) The biggest dilemma in the book: should he remain a business executive...or, should he open and run his own business?

Wow. Turns out that Asperger's is fun and empowering...assuming, of course, that you're a socially-adaptable techno-genius with highly marketable engineering skills.

'Look Me in the Eye' does make for a fascinating window into Asperger's Syndrome. However, if you are purchasing this book, please bear in mind: few people (and I mean very few people, including neuro-typicals) are as high-functioning as the author. This is a memoir by someone with Asperger's Syndrome, not an educational tool about it.
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90 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Viewing the World Through Aspergerian Eyes October 19, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
People who suffer from Asperger's Syndrome view the world through very different eyes than do normal people. Things that seem perfectly mundane to normals take on a whole new appearance when someone with Asperger's looks at them. Aspergians (a term coined by Robison) do not pick up on the social cues and body language other people do. They don't think things that most people peceive as important matter; and things they believe are of vital importance are seen as inconsequential by normals.

Think for a minute about the sound of nails on a chalkboard. To many normals, the sound is something to make you grit your teeth and wish for its absence. To Aspergians, the sound can range from absolutely intolerable to pleasant, depending on how their particular affect of the syndrome perceives it. This difference in perception is one reason it's so hard for Aspergians to relate to the world.

John Elder Robison has given us a solid look at what it's like to be an Aspergian. He points out that the syndrome gives as well as takes. Although he had a difficult time as a child and adolescent only partly due to his Asperger's (he was afflicted with a pair of nutcase parents, which is the last thing anyone with Asperger's needs), his gifts for 'hearing' a sound and then being able to construct devices to make that sound a reality gave him successful careers as a tech wizard working with the sound systems and instruments of the rock group KISS, among others; and a successful career (as defined by the mundanes) as an engineer for Parker Brothers in the very early days of electronic games and early game consoles.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent
Published 3 days ago by Jody
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book!
Published 5 days ago by A. Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique and rare look into the protected world of ...
A unique and rare look into the protected world of a special needs individual.
They share so little freely, and to get this perspective is a golden opportunity to learn just... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Jonathan Pomianek
5.0 out of 5 stars if you have a friend who won't look at you...
Worth the read for a neurotypical. Not the best book I've read lately but clearly something relevant as the number of people with this are seemingly increasing. Read more
Published 6 days ago by ranae beyerlein
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
Eye opening book about Asperger. I recommend this to anyone dealing with a child that has been diagnosed with Asperger.
Published 7 days ago by S. M. Pouk
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, a Must Read for Anyone with or Who Knows Someone with...
Simply fantastic! Thank you John for writing this book and sharing your life experiences!

A must read for anyone with or who knows someone with asbergers or autism. Read more
Published 8 days ago by LA
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
A must read!
Published 12 days ago by Erin S.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good
I enjoyed the book however the last 75 pages dragged on. I give it a good not great, would still recommend.
Published 14 days ago by Allow Kellett
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this book to anyone but most especially to everyone...
Very well written in the "voice" of an Aspergian. I highly recommend this book to anyone but most especially to everyone who has encountered one of these unique and... Read more
Published 25 days ago by B. Thigpen
5.0 out of 5 stars Why do they act that way???
A great read that helps give an insight into living with Asperger's and how our understanding and treatment have progressed. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Constance
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More About the Author

John Elder Robison is a free range Aspergian male who grew up in the 1960s before the Asperger diagnosis came into common use. After dropping out of high school, John worked in the music business where he created sound effects and electronic devices, including the signature illuminated, smoking, and rocket firing guitars he built for KISS. Later John worked on some of the first video games and talking toys at Milton Bradley. After a ten year career in electronics John founded Robison Service, a specialty automobile company in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Robison Service grew to be one of the largest independent restoration and service specialists for BMW, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, and Rolls Royce cars. The company has become one of the top-ranked Bosch Car Service centers in North America.

However, that wasn't enough. John wanted to do more; to find a way to give something back to other misfit kids who struggle to find their way in the world. Inspired by the reception of his brother's book Running With Scissors, John began speaking to groups of young people, and a year or two later, he decided to write a book. That book, Look Me in the Eye, was an instant bestseller.

John was launched on a new career, in addition to his successful car company.

When he's not at Robison Service, John now serves as an adjunct faculty in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts. He has served as a panel member for the Institute for Autism Research, The Centers for Disease Control, The National Institutes of Mental Health and Autism Speaks. John is involved in TMS autism research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and serves on the advisory board for Mass General Hospital's YouthCare program.

John is very active in his efforts to support and promote research leading to therapies or treatments that will improve the lives of people who live with autism in all its forms today. John is widely known as an advocate for people with autism and neurological differences.

John is the author of Look Me in the Eye, my life with Asperger's, and Be Different, Adventures of a free-range Aspergian. John's writing has been translated into ten languages and his work is sold in over 60 countries. His writing also appears in a number of magazines and he's a regular blogger on Psychology Today.

In addition to his autism advocacy work, John is a lifelong car enthusiast, an avid hiker, a photographer, a music lover, and a world-class champion eater. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Find John on the web:
www.robisonservice.com - the car company
www.johnrobison.com - John's personal site
jerobison.blogspot.com - John's blog
JohnElderRobison - on Facebook
@johnrobison - on Twitter


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