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Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's (2007)

by John Elder Robison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,6741184,741 (3.74)85
John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits had earned him the label "social deviant." No guidance came from his mother, who conversed with light fixtures, or his father, who spent evenings drunk. No wonder he gravitated to machines, which could be counted on. 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, the more he had to pretend to be "normal" and do what he simply couldn't: communicate. 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.--From publisher description.… (more)
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English (115)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (118)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
In the last twenty years, autism has risen to the forefront in the American consciousness. High-functioning autism (otherwise known as Asperger’s) is of particular interest because these people can and do function positively (even excellently) in society. Still, they face unique challenges in socially interacting with colleagues, family, and friends. Robison’s memoir shows how such an adaptation can happen and how happiness can ultimately be found.

Robison was raised without a formal understanding of his condition. He was mistreated by his peers, abused by his father, and dropped out of high school. However, due to a combination of persistence, opportunity, and luck, he managed to carve out a decent life engineering mechanical and electronic equipment. He learned, often painfully, how to adapt in society. As of his time writing this book, in his fifties, he feels socially accepted to a degree that he didn’t think possible as a youth.

This story can serve several ends. It can inspire, and it can teach. With the prevalence of autism on the up-and-up, more people receive this diagnosis and need hope to assuage anxieties. This rise in diagnoses may be due to more awareness of the condition (as in Robison’s case) or due to a larger number of cases (or both). Either way, Robison demonstrates that with a few adaptive lessons (specifically spelled out in his story), people can live a happy and well-adjusted life.

Besides being useful, this story is also entertaining. Robison’s journey spans an unstable household, a bout with homelessness, gigs with the rock band Kiss, jobs with engineering firms, marriage and family, and starting a high-end car repair business. Robison’s writing style is heavily analytic yet engaged with the human condition. He comes off as incredibly human and – dare I say – normal.

Autism continues to receive attention (rightfully) in ways to integrate those with the condition successfully into socially helpful roles. For whatever reason, society deals with this issue more and more today. Books like this serve as a part of the social solution by providing human understanding. Asperger’s, as Robison notes, has many benefits if one makes a few social adaptations. This book thankfully lights the way for affected families, professionals, and the reading public in general. ( )
  scottjpearson | Mar 24, 2022 |
This was an interestingly written book, with a straightforward writing style. Refreshing! ( )
  Wren73 | Mar 4, 2022 |
I really found this book to be so helpful in understanding my grandchild on the spectrum. I got a lot of information and developed some ideas for helping my grandson by reading the author's story. Do I expect my grandson to be a genius or to travel around the world with a rock band or to be a highly successful businessman? Yes and no. I expect him to follow his dreams. I expect him to live as normally as he can. This book provides me with some insight and hope for that. Not a diagnosis, an absolute nor a guarantee. Do not expect that.
The author's story is well written. It is humorous, painful, hopeful, sometimes confusing, insightful and honest. It may make you cry and probably will make you laugh. It does contain foul language, illegal activity and may offend your morals. But guess what? So does life. And that is what this book is, the story of the author's life. ( )
  Wulfwyn907 | Jan 30, 2022 |
This book, which I read for a first year psychology seminar, was very interesting, funny, and highly worthwhile. Robison's voice is strong, and the way he tells his own story is relate-able, striking when you realize that his very story comes from fundamental differences from those around him. ( )
  et.carole | Jan 21, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
Since learning about Asperger's, I have read just about every personal account I can find with regard to Asperger's. While I found all of them interesting, I can't think of one that I would have called warm or engaging - until I read John Elder Robison's memoir Look Me In The Eye: My Life With Asperger's. ...Mr. Robison tells a story that is at once heartbreaking, inspiring and funny....Mr. Robison's life is a testament to the fact that a life with Asperger's can be as rich as anyone else's - despite the challenges.

 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Elder Robisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burroughs, AugustenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my brother, who encouraged me to write the story, and most especially for Unit Two and Cubby
For my brother, who encouraged me to write the story, and my family, who supported me while I did so
First words
"Look me in the eye, young man!"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (4)

John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits had earned him the label "social deviant." No guidance came from his mother, who conversed with light fixtures, or his father, who spent evenings drunk. No wonder he gravitated to machines, which could be counted on. 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, the more he had to pretend to be "normal" and do what he simply couldn't: communicate. 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.--From publisher description.

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Book description
John Robison recounts his struggles to fit in and communicate with others as he grew up, describing why he had so many problems relating to others and why he often turned to machines for comfort, rather than people, and explains how his life was changed when he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at age forty.
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