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Customer Review

on October 19, 2007
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. His current career as a master restorer of classic cars also is due in part to the way his Asperger's causes him to see the world; like many other Aspergians, he relates much better to machines than he does to people because machines are logical and do not deliberately set out to hurt you.

Thinking back to your school days, I am sure you will remember the weirdo who was hopelessly awkward, who had no social graces and few if any friends, but who was incredibly gifted with one subject or non-sports-related activity in or outside school. I'm also sure you'll recall (if you are honest about it) how that kid was tormented for his awkwardness, gracelessness, and inability to fit in. Chances are you were dealing with an Aspergian, who had no more of a clue of how socialization and perception works than you did about why he was the pink monkey in a cage full of brown monkeys in the jungle that is childhood and adolescence. Thanks to Robison, you now have some idea of what life was like for that kid, and why he was the way he was, and what life is like when you're the one who has Asperger's.
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