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Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers Hardcover – March 22, 2011
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“For anyone who has difficulty fitting in, this book is fantastic.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures
“In a love poem to his wife, Pedro Salinas, the Spanish poet, wrote, ‘Glory to the differences / between you and me.’ John Robison teaches us to celebrate differences
like Salinas did, but also offers clear insight and valuable advice on how to cope with the challenges that being different can create. This book transcends the specific case of Asperger’s syndrome and is a lesson in humanity and the human condition.”
—Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
“Anyone with Asperger’s, if not everyone else, will derive knowledge and pleasure from the wonderful stories told in John Elder Robison’s newest book, Be Different. Clearly, John is one of our community’s leading voices.”
—Michael John Carley, author of Asperger’s from the Inside Out and executive director of GRASP and ASTEP
“Be Different is a fascinating and unique guide for young people who may be struggling with autism and feel ‘out of sync’ with the world around them. John shares personal insights about growing up, feeling apart from his peers, and learning to modify his socializing skills and harness his gifts to discover his path to a successful life.”
—Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks
“Robison offers down-to-earth life advice for his “Aspie” peers and their friends, families, and teachers...recommended reading for anyone seeking to understand Aspergian children and adults” —Kirkus
" ...provides incredibly helpful advice to families learning to live with these challenges. Robison’s clear writing provides substantial insight into the mind of someone whose disorder makes clarity very, very difficult...a valuable read."--Booklist
About the Author
JOHN ELDER ROBISON is an author and frequent lecturer about his life with Asperger’s. He blogs for Psychology Today and is an adjunct faculty member at Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts. John serves on committees and review boards for the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. He is currently involved in autism research and therapy programs at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital. John also sits on the science and treatment boards of Autism Speaks. His previous book, Look Me in the Eye, was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Visit him at www.johnrobison.com.
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"Be Different" offers deeper explanations of this thinking - at least as Robison has experienced it - as a child and as an adult. He reflects on how much easier his own life might have been if others had been there to guide him rather than punish him for unknown transgressions. In an attempt to enlighten those who are trying to desperately to understand, but who are handicapped by being "nypical" (non-Aspergians), he has answered some of the questions asked of him by the many caregivers and loved ones who now look to him for this guidance plus much more.
Robison has a knack for humor as he describes and analyzes events with explanations for his blank stares and misunderstandings due to differences in language interpretation. He refutes the idea that lack of response means lack of feelings, in fact, he states that the truth is quite the opposite. Some of the issues he discusses are as problematic to "nypicals" as they were to him, and his salient points apply to many children who are misunderstood by those who make assumptions instead of making the effort.
This book is a "must read" for anyone involved with loving or serving these children and who might recognized a hitherto misunderstood adult. It also might serve to enlighten related persons who need to forgive those who are not responsible for their condition. Robison's kind and wise views give heart from the heart.
Thankfully, the author's objective was to present the challenges and positive aspects of being an Aspie. The book starts off slow and I had a sinking feeling the thing was going to be like those self-help books written as if the reader has the intelligence of a 4th-grader. Fortunately, once Mr. Robison begins regaling the reader about his personal stories and how his high-functioning autism helped or led to misunderstandings, it becomes very enjoyable. I found myself laughing quite a bit, especially because I have done similar social faux pas. The author covers such areas as the difficulties of negotiating school, understanding social cues, dating, expressing emotions, empathy, the arbitrary nature of manners, staying cool in emergencies, being viewed as egocentric, and sensory issues. The book also explains how he persevered and gives suggestions as well as encouragement to fellow Aspies.
'Be Different' is a quick read and well worth reading for not only people with high-functioning autism but anyone interested in understanding how this influential segment negotiates what normal people consider run-of-mill situations. The chapters are short and the material is presented in a matter-of-fact manner, just like an Aspie. The Appendix is also interesting and includes some helpful descriptions as well as resources. It's the kind of work which entertains while giving you valuable insight and maybe will help you to reflect about someone in your life who you think is a vexing odd bird.