Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's Info

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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.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's:

4

Jul 18, 2011

Asperger’s Syndrome is a form of autism that affects social interaction, communication skills and may also cause physical clumsiness. For example, it may prevent a person from displaying emotion and may cause them to make inappropriate or odd comments.

The author Robison had it undiagnosed for most of his life.

Robison is also the older brother of Running with Scissors author Augusten Burroughs. One interesting element of this book is that Robison describes some of the same events as Burroughs, Asperger’s Syndrome is a form of autism that affects social interaction, communication skills and may also cause physical clumsiness. For example, it may prevent a person from displaying emotion and may cause them to make inappropriate or odd comments.

The author Robison had it undiagnosed for most of his life.

Robison is also the older brother of Running with Scissors author Augusten Burroughs. One interesting element of this book is that Robison describes some of the same events as Burroughs, but from the older brother perspective. Same dysfunctional family, same neurotic mom and same violent, alcoholic dad; but Look Me in the Eye is told from his damaged perspective.

And where Running with Scissors was a funny, but absurd parade of grotesques, Look Me in the Eye is a balanced, clear, simple, well written account of a life on the periphery of society, banished because of a disorder that also gave him savant-like skills.

Finally, the fact that he worked for KISS and created Ace Frehley's stage guitars makes this an even more cool book to enjoy.

...more
1

Dec 10, 2008

I am interested in the Asperger's continuum, so when I heard about this memoir - written by Augusten Burroughs's brother - I added it to my Amazon wish list. The title leads one to believe that the book is about the author's life with Asperger's, but that's a little misleading. The book is about his life in general and very little is devoted to how Asperger's influenced his life at all ages. I wanted to read a memoir about growing up within a dysfunctional family and also having a condition that I am interested in the Asperger's continuum, so when I heard about this memoir - written by Augusten Burroughs's brother - I added it to my Amazon wish list. The title leads one to believe that the book is about the author's life with Asperger's, but that's a little misleading. The book is about his life in general and very little is devoted to how Asperger's influenced his life at all ages. I wanted to read a memoir about growing up within a dysfunctional family and also having a condition that makes life different, but what I read was about his experiences with sound engineering, some good stories that you can hear in any bar and, occasionally, his Asperger's. His condition seemed to be tangential, an afterthought. A selling point?

I skimmed through most of the middle part of the book through the end because it just wasn't interesting, nor was it even remotely related to the story I thought he would be relating to the reader. He writes in his afterword that he "wanted to show readers what it was like to grow up feeling like a freak or a misfit." It did not. He writes that he wanted also to show what life with Asperger's was like, how those with the condition are different. He doesn't do that, either. He doesn't settle on any one part of his life long enough to explain anything, and the result is a collection of chapters and words by Augusten Burroughs's brother, not an account of life with Asperger's.

One of the reviews on the back cover of the paperback book reads, "...Should be on the reading list of anyone who is interested in the human mind." As someone deeply interested in psychology, neurology, brain and behavior, I am almost offended by that statement. The book gives absolutely nothing - neither personal nor scientific - to sate any curiosity one may have of the human mind.

Just because you have some decent stories doesn't mean you can write a memoir. I'm sorry I bought this book. ...more
3

Apr 11, 2008

In a day when a cure is expected for nearly every ailment, flaw or disorder, I was struck by John Elder Robinson's assertion that those with Asperger's Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder on the autism spectrum that the author lived with undiagnosed until he was forty, needs no cure - only understanding.

John Elder Robinson starts his story with his earliest memories -a failed attempt to make friends in a sandbox and meanders through his shame at being called a deviant and a psychopath because In a day when a cure is expected for nearly every ailment, flaw or disorder, I was struck by John Elder Robinson's assertion that those with Asperger's Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder on the autism spectrum that the author lived with undiagnosed until he was forty, needs no cure - only understanding.

John Elder Robinson starts his story with his earliest memories -a failed attempt to make friends in a sandbox and meanders through his shame at being called a deviant and a psychopath because he avoided eye contact (although his explanation about how he still doesn't understand most people's need to stare at somebody's eyeball while speaking to them is hilarious), leaving home in the middle of his teenage years, finding himself as part of the 70s rock scene and creating flaming guitars for KISS, faking his way through a job interview for a position as an engineer and getting it by reading and memorizing books about the subject, his parallel struggle to "be a team player" through out his career, until he finally arrives at understanding and acceptance for both his gifts and oddities.

Although this book contains many fascinating stories that stem from his dysfunctional childhood rather than his Asperger's Syndrome, Robinson's experiences and viewpoint sheds a great deal of light on an "Aspergian's" way of thinking. I have a nephew who has been diagnosed with Asperger's and a brother and sister-in-law who constantly seek balance between his way of seeing things and their own understanding. I found myself asking my sister-in-law the question, "Do you think he needs a cure?" Who is to say? Robinson made clear in his book that while he has learned a great deal about appropriate social responses through trial and error, he still finds them unnatural and really, more to the point, unnecessary. What is normal? How much of life's successes are social? What parts of our own personalities should be fixed? I mean, I can't imagine an enjoyable existence where we are all the same.

But, if Asperger's Syndrome falls on the Autism Spectrum, and we observe those with the kinds of autism that render them completely unable to connect to the outside world, certainly we feel they miss out on opportunities for relationships and meaningful experiences. Certainly we would choose a cure, if there was one to be found. So at what point of the spectrum do we intercede?

These are simply the questions that I had after reading this book. You may or may not have similar kinds. However, if you get a chance to read this illuminating book, you will definitely have a glimpse into a colorful and fascinating life. ...more
5

Jan 20, 2008

“Look me in the eyes, young man!”
“Nobody trusts a man who won’t look them in the eye.”
“You look like a criminal.”
“I’ve read about people like you. They have no expression because they have no feeling. Some of the worst murderers in history were sociopaths.”

These are just some of the things John Elder Robison heard as a young boy, decades before a friend handed him a book about Asperger’s Syndrome and told him, "This book describes you exactly." Hearing these predictions made Robison withdraw “Look me in the eyes, young man!”
“Nobody trusts a man who won’t look them in the eye.”
“You look like a criminal.”
“I’ve read about people like you. They have no expression because they have no feeling. Some of the worst murderers in history were sociopaths.”

These are just some of the things John Elder Robison heard as a young boy, decades before a friend handed him a book about Asperger’s Syndrome and told him, "This book describes you exactly." Hearing these predictions made Robison withdraw even further as a child as he waited for these awful things to come true. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he realized he wasn’t going to become a serial killer. By that time he had met enough shifty people who had no trouble looking him in the eye to realize that these people had no idea what they were talking about. Learning that he was not defective and that he was not alone brought great peace to the adult John Elder Robison.

Although Robison was raised by a violent, alcoholic father and an increasingly mentally unstable mother, he was luckier than most Aspergian children at that time in that he was raised in a collegiate environment, where his quirky nature and adult personality were admired by professors and students. He honed his coping skills on college campuses across America. His brother, Augusten Burroughs, chronicled the dysfunction of the Robison family in his popular memoir, Running with Scissors (made into a movie in 2006). Burroughs believes that his brother was able to survive their turbulent childhood by his ability to shut down in traumatic situations.

Robison learned early on how not to answer a question. If a kid said, “Look at my Tonka truck,” instead of blurting out “I want some cookies,” he would force himself to supply the correct response: “That’s a neat truck! Can I hold it?” These skills helped him in his teenage and adult years, and he went on to design speakers for Pink Floyd and flaming guitars for KISS before settling down in the corporate world of designing electronic games for Milton Bradley. Eventually, his expertise in automotives steered him towards his own business of repairing and restoring European automobiles.

Some who are familiar with Aspies might be surprised at the emotion that Robison brings to his story. The chapters “I Get a Bear Cub” and “Winning at Basketball,” and the epilogue about his father’s death are surprisingly touching, breaking through the common robotic barrier of an Aspie. I was especially moved by his perfectly rational reason why Aspies don’t show emotion over tragic events that don’t directly affect them: "People die every minute, all over the world. If we tried to feel sorry for every death, our little hearts would explode." And he’s absolutely right.

Look Me in the Eye is one of the few books on Asperger's Syndrome that is not a dry training manual on the condition. I will always be grateful to Robison for telling his story because someone I'm close to has Asperger's, and I can now see that this person's eccentric way of doing things makes perfectly good sense to him, even if it sometimes doesn't to me.
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4

Mar 28, 2016



I had no idea John Robison was Augusten Burrough's brother! He gives the foreword in the book.

This is a really sad story of a boy's childhood. He had family with troubles, kids and people that were mean. They didn't know he had something like he had and people didn't understand most of that stuff back then. They don't even understand it now. A lot of people are just mean.



Just because someone has any kind of mental or medical issue doesn't mean there is something wrong with them. They are not

I had no idea John Robison was Augusten Burrough's brother! He gives the foreword in the book.

This is a really sad story of a boy's childhood. He had family with troubles, kids and people that were mean. They didn't know he had something like he had and people didn't understand most of that stuff back then. They don't even understand it now. A lot of people are just mean.



Just because someone has any kind of mental or medical issue doesn't mean there is something wrong with them. They are not monsters!

--->EXCERPT<---

By the time I was twelve, I had progressed from "If he doesn't get better, he may have to be institutionalized" to "He's a weird, screwed-up kid." But although my communication abilities had developed by leaps and bounds, people had ever higher expectations for me, and I began having trouble with what the therapists called "inappropriate expressions."

John was also abused by his alcoholic father. It makes me sick. Anyone that gets abused, it makes me sick.

I might sob, or I might be quiet. It depended on how hard he hit me. I thought of the knife my grandfather had given me for Christmas. Solingen steel. Eight inches long. Sharp. I could roll over and jam it into him, right to the hilt. Right in the belly. But I was afraid. What if I miss? What if it doesn't kill him? I had seen the movies, where they just kept coming. They didn't die like they were supposed to. He might kill me for real, then.

But not all is doom and gloom. John was very smart and making things. He actually made guitars and made these awesome guitars for Ace Frehley! How cool is that?





Smoking guitars, fire guitars, you name it.

But the thing is, this book is just another good book for people to learn a little more about how people are treated with Asperger's. Some are not treated bad but we all know the world, there seems to be more bad people than good.

*I would like to thank Random House and Blogging for Books for a print copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List ...more
3

Dec 06, 2018

I don't really know how I feel about this book. On the one hand I suppose I'm glad that it helps dissolve the notion that people with Asperger's (now grouped in under autism in general) are not idiots or freaks, but just people with a different way of thinking. On the other hand, it reaffirms the stereotype of the eccentric savant and that people with Asperger's are more caring towards their fixations than towards other people. I guess that's all a matter of perspective - with it being such a I don't really know how I feel about this book. On the one hand I suppose I'm glad that it helps dissolve the notion that people with Asperger's (now grouped in under autism in general) are not idiots or freaks, but just people with a different way of thinking. On the other hand, it reaffirms the stereotype of the eccentric savant and that people with Asperger's are more caring towards their fixations than towards other people. I guess that's all a matter of perspective - with it being such a wide spectrum and some people arguing that those with Asperger's are just introverts being psychologically diagnosed for being different, a book like Look Me in the Eye is sure to draw out polarizing opinions from both experts and average readers alike.

One thing I just found rather annoying personally was the wallowing in dysfunctional family drama. For anyone who doesn't know, John Robison is the brother of Augusten Burroughs (yes, that Augusten Burroughs who wrote a memoir about living with a mentally disturbed family as a teenager - he was later sued by said family for spreading lies about them and revealing private stories of his childhood friend's sexual abuse and domestic violence), and while Robison doesn't wander into this kind of volatile territory as often, there are still many times where he wanders off to make sure we as readers know how screwed-up his family is, even when it has absolutely no relevance to his personal tale of having Asperger's whatsoever. He also fancies himself more unique and quirky than he actually is. I've met many people quite similar to him and while his story is mildly interesting, it's not all that special or even really memorable.

I like the works of Temple Grandin, a woman diagnosed with autism, much better. Her story is told in a more down-to-earth and understandable way, and she's more likable. This book looks more at a damaged childhood than it actually does at Robison's Asperger's, seeming like he just had a bone to pick with the world for not getting him as a kid. There were also times in the book which were rather concerning - I'm not sure digging large holes to put your brother into is a symptom of Asperger's syndrome. Nor is graphically envisioning stabbing your own father to death, even if he was an alcoholic. Unfortunately people reading Look Me in the Eye may inevitably perceive these bizarre and frankly sick behaviors and fantasies to be a part of people who have Asperger's, which is bothersome, to say the least. But I'd prefer to stay out of why I find that to be so disturbing. ...more
3

Jul 02, 2008

I bought this book on a whim (so that my order would get free shipping from Amazon.com). I was quickly horrified to learn that the author is the real-life brother of Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors. I did not enjoy that memoir at all. Go read my review of it so see what exactly I hated, if you're so curious. But I decided that I would try not to hold Robison's family against him and read his book.

I have to admit, given my son's placement on the autism spectrum, books that I bought this book on a whim (so that my order would get free shipping from Amazon.com). I was quickly horrified to learn that the author is the real-life brother of Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors. I did not enjoy that memoir at all. Go read my review of it so see what exactly I hated, if you're so curious. But I decided that I would try not to hold Robison's family against him and read his book.

I have to admit, given my son's placement on the autism spectrum, books that approach that subject matter spark my interest. Robison's memoir focuses on his view of the world as a person living with Asperger's, and for a very large portion of his life, without a dianosis. So many moments I saw characteristics common to my son, and it made me consider that raising of such a child. It's clear that I could not read this book with my usual academic detachment.

But here goes with the rest. Much of his writing was interesting. I mean, who doesn't want to hear about the life of a guy designing smoking guitars? However, there were chapters that were a bit bland, overly analytical, and just there for information. Parts like that read like a brochure in a psychiatrist's office. But to be fair, Aspergians can definitely be that way, so it was truth in style, more or less. For me, the very best part of this book was the epilogue. It was interesting and heart warming. Robison was able to do something his brother failed to do in Running With Scissors, conclude the story. It ended, and I was content. As a reader, I can't ask for much more. ...more
4

Jul 07, 2015

OKAY THIS WAS GLORIOUS. I'm always nervous of memoirs and, particularly, adult books...because I am Peter Pan, okay?? I am not growing into adult books. Return me to the children's aisle ASAP. *ahem* BUT! This was so easy to read and funny and engaging and interesting and I basically did not want to put it down. I was doing the whole "oh one more chapter and I'll go to bed...um, just one more...just one more." Addictive = yes.

Also it's by someone with Asperger's so you know all his memories and OKAY THIS WAS GLORIOUS. I'm always nervous of memoirs and, particularly, adult books...because I am Peter Pan, okay?? I am not growing into adult books. Return me to the children's aisle ASAP. *ahem* BUT! This was so easy to read and funny and engaging and interesting and I basically did not want to put it down. I was doing the whole "oh one more chapter and I'll go to bed...um, just one more...just one more." Addictive = yes.

Also it's by someone with Asperger's so you know all his memories and feelings and experiences are 100% true (unlike some other awful AS books I've read...ugh. let's not even talk about them). And I think this gives you a fantastic view of how being Aspergic is sometimes an "invisible thing" and it can affect your life 100% but people just assume you're being belligerent or annoying or, as was John Elder's experience, "most likely to end up a serial killer" despite him being a very non-violent person. SO THIS BOOK IS JUST GRAND, OKAY??

The only part I didn't like was in the middle. It lagged a lot. And it got really focused on how he was revamping amps for the bands he worked for and -- I don't even care. BUT. At the same time, it really showed how obsessed he was with mechanics (a very clear AS trait) and the story would be patchy and confusing without those chapters. But I was a less-than-interested there.

And there are some chapters towards the end which are JUS TSO GOOD I COULDN'T EVEN PUT THE BOOK DOWN. GAWSH.

So for someone who's allergic to both memoirs AND adult books and yet loved this??? I doubly recommend it. I also want to read Running with Scissors, which is a memoir by his little brother (who then encouraged John to write HIS memoir) and I'm also curious about the book John mentions in the memoir called Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant. I love books that recommend books. So helpful. So kind. Thank you John Elder Robinson. HE IS A BRILLIANT HUMAN. ...more
4

Aug 11, 2010

Before I read John Elder Robison's LOOK ME IN THE EYE: MY LIFE WITH ASPERGER'S, I knew enough about the syndrome and about my brother to mentally peel off the Asperger's label that my mother stuck on my late brother. Nevertheless, I wanted access to the interior of someone with Asperger's. Yes, I was well aware of the fact that it's not a "one-size-fits-all" syndrome and that looking at people and experiences through Robison's eyes wouldn't enable me to prove the unprovable. Having no interest Before I read John Elder Robison's LOOK ME IN THE EYE: MY LIFE WITH ASPERGER'S, I knew enough about the syndrome and about my brother to mentally peel off the Asperger's label that my mother stuck on my late brother. Nevertheless, I wanted access to the interior of someone with Asperger's. Yes, I was well aware of the fact that it's not a "one-size-fits-all" syndrome and that looking at people and experiences through Robison's eyes wouldn't enable me to prove the unprovable. Having no interest in the lives of the abusive alcoholic father and certifiably crazy mother of Augusten Burroughs and John Elder Robison, no interest in KISS and the other bands that benefitted from Robison's brilliance, no interest in complex electrical engineering projects, I read LOOK ME IN THE EYE for only one reason. I wanted to compare -- call me "irrational" or something more insulting -- a man with Asperger's and my brother. I wanted to feel, from the first page of Robison's memoir to the last, that I was not reading about my brother. I unhesitatingly gave LOOK ME IN THE EYE four stars -- because I got what I wanted.

One of my high school English teachers got her students to spell "weird" correctly by writing on the blackboard: WE are all a little WEird. And perhaps we are all at least a little Aspergian.


...more
5

Oct 07, 2007

very funny book! describes bits and pieces of Asperger's, but it is not a book about Asperger's. It is a very funny life story of someone who understands that there are social mores, but has to eventually learn to do them and even as an adult remind himself to follow them. I say that it is funny because he is very light hearted about his trials and tribulations.
One thing he mentions about asperger's is the autistic spectrum, and that with his strong memories of himself as a child, he strongly very funny book! describes bits and pieces of Asperger's, but it is not a book about Asperger's. It is a very funny life story of someone who understands that there are social mores, but has to eventually learn to do them and even as an adult remind himself to follow them. I say that it is funny because he is very light hearted about his trials and tribulations.
One thing he mentions about asperger's is the autistic spectrum, and that with his strong memories of himself as a child, he strongly feels that if he had not been around other people who offered social and intellectual stimulation for him, he may have slipped into autism. I think this is incredibly important for parents to realize and to obtain early intervention if they even suspect delays with their child.
JER further goes on to explain that as he progressed socially through the years, he lost many of his abilities. He looks at work (circuits and things) that he's done 25 years prior and knows he could never work at that level again. He writes that it was worth the trade off to be more socially accepted, and happy, pointing out that he believes that it is not that autistic kids choose to be alone and not interact, but that they want to and just can't. ...more
4

Dec 12, 2012

A thoughtful and entertaining memoir of someone who has Asperger's, but he wasn't diagnosed until he was 40. Before then, John knew there was something wrong with him, but he didn't know what. When he was young he wanted to make friends and be part of a team, but he had trouble talking to other kids. He couldn't understand social cues and didn't understand when other people got mad at him for asking inappropriate questions or smiling at the wrong times. Worst of all, John would often look at the A thoughtful and entertaining memoir of someone who has Asperger's, but he wasn't diagnosed until he was 40. Before then, John knew there was something wrong with him, but he didn't know what. When he was young he wanted to make friends and be part of a team, but he had trouble talking to other kids. He couldn't understand social cues and didn't understand when other people got mad at him for asking inappropriate questions or smiling at the wrong times. Worst of all, John would often look at the floor when someone talked to him, and grownups often yelled at him to "look me in the eye! What are you hiding?"

John Elder Robison is also known for being the brother of Augusten Burroughs, who wrote "Running With Scissors." Both brothers are wonderful storytellers, and John has some great ones. After he dropped out of high school, he started working with a local band because he was good at fixing their sound equipment. One day he ran into some of the tech crew for Pink Floyd, and he was able to fix their speakers. This led to a job traveling around the country fixing sound equipment for other bands, and he also designed special effects for Ace Frehley from KISS. Later, John worked at Milton Bradley designing some early electronic games. Throughout his life, John enjoyed playing pranks on people and telling long tales.

The book does a good job of showing the thought processes of someone with Asperger's. I work with some students who are on the autism spectrum, and it helped to get more insight into how they might think. ...more
2

Nov 07, 2007

Haven't read Augusten Burroughs' books so didn't feel a connection on that level.

Sorry the author had a crappy childhood (like a lot of kids w/alcoholic parents) and that he had a tough time socially (like a lot of kids) but this guy has had a way more successful life than almost anyone I know ...

Not 1 but 3 amazingly successful lucrative careers, not 1 but 2 deep and meaningful long-term relationships, a great kid, a beautiful house ...

Am I supposed to feel sorry for this guy because he's a Haven't read Augusten Burroughs' books so didn't feel a connection on that level.

Sorry the author had a crappy childhood (like a lot of kids w/alcoholic parents) and that he had a tough time socially (like a lot of kids) but this guy has had a way more successful life than almost anyone I know ...

Not 1 but 3 amazingly successful lucrative careers, not 1 but 2 deep and meaningful long-term relationships, a great kid, a beautiful house ...

Am I supposed to feel sorry for this guy because he's a genius w/Asperger's? I dunno. Not particularly detailed, pretty much straight narrative. Easy to read. Best part was when he was designing exploding guitars for the band Kiss.

Overall, eh. ...more
5

Nov 06, 2010

I really enjoyed this book. It was insightful, witty, and entertaining. I'm sending it on to a friend whose son has Asperger's. I'm watching Running with Scissors again as there were many references to it in the book.
4

Jul 13, 2008

I really enjoyed this book. Several times I laughed out loud, and then was stumped how to answer my son's question, "What's so funny, Momma?"

"Well, son, he sent a blow up doll to his crappy teacher."
Or:
"You see, Sam, he shot a snake that was slithering around outside his hotel room."

No, none of those would do.

While I loved reading the many misadventures of Robison, I also felt a great deal of sorrow; for his troubled childhood and for how misunderstood he was as a person with Asperger's.

The I really enjoyed this book. Several times I laughed out loud, and then was stumped how to answer my son's question, "What's so funny, Momma?"

"Well, son, he sent a blow up doll to his crappy teacher."
Or:
"You see, Sam, he shot a snake that was slithering around outside his hotel room."

No, none of those would do.

While I loved reading the many misadventures of Robison, I also felt a great deal of sorrow; for his troubled childhood and for how misunderstood he was as a person with Asperger's.

The true value in this book is that Robison educates readers on Asperger's. How differently Aspergians (his word) view the world, and while they may seem cold and unaware, they are not.

...more
5

Jun 10, 2009

"Look me in the eye," is something John Robinson grew up hearing. He was constantly told that he would end up as a criminal, him having shifty eyes and all, and what did he have to hide?

Unfortunately for John, Asperger's Syndrome wasn't widely known when he was growing up. In his time, the only autism that was "seen" was the extreme cases, the ones that were locked away in worlds of their own, that couldn't function in society at all.

I was drawn to this book for a few reasons. The first being "Look me in the eye," is something John Robinson grew up hearing. He was constantly told that he would end up as a criminal, him having shifty eyes and all, and what did he have to hide?

Unfortunately for John, Asperger's Syndrome wasn't widely known when he was growing up. In his time, the only autism that was "seen" was the extreme cases, the ones that were locked away in worlds of their own, that couldn't function in society at all.

I was drawn to this book for a few reasons. The first being that I loved the cover and the title. The second, that my own little Superman has been diagnosed with autism and I wanted to learn more from the humanistic standpoint.

This book chronicles his life as an undiagnosed Aspergian. There are some very painful moments, but his wit and humor kept me glued to my seat--excuse the cliche--and I finished it in nearly one sitting. He explains how he thought, how he saw the world, and how the world saw him. He states that some have said that people with Asperger's (or autism) have no desire to interact socially with others. He corrects this way of thinking. He wanted to interact, would loved to have been accepted, but didn't know how. He eventually quit trying because he couldn't take any more rejections from the children he was trying to make friends with.

His life took some wild curves and turns, and it wasn't until he was in his 40s that he was diagnosed with Asperger's. His life was unbelievable, but completely human at the same time. And something he's learned since writing this book and doing book tours is that it's a common thing for humans to yearn for acceptance, even as they feel rejection. And no one is immune.

I loved the humor. My favorite part was when he was determined to make friends with Chuckie. He decided that to introduce himself, he would pet her on the head. His reasoning is that dogs liked it, it's how they made friends, and that he liked it. It calmed him down and soothed him when his mom would rub his head and arm at night. Her reaction wasn't quite what he was going for. She smacked him. Undeterred, but confused, he decided to try again, this time with a stick. His reasoning was that if she couldn't reach him, she couldn't smack him. Unfortunately, the teacher didn't see it that way. >.<

There is a bit of language, and his life addresses some serious issues: abuse (family), mental illnesses, alcholism, drugs (he made guitars for KISS) and all the things that go with traveling with rock stars, bullying, and dropping out of school. The paperback is a revised version that he pruposefully cleaned up the language for because he knew there might be younger people reading his book.

My only quibble was that it ended. I loved the book and hope he writes more in the future.

My favorite line: "It's not a disease. It doesn't need curing. It's just how you are."

5 out of 5 stars ...more
3

Jan 10, 2013

Reviewing this book will be a complex affair; I gave it four stars but I wouldn't say I "liked" or "enjoyed" it. It was certainly educational, about Aspies yes, but also about humanity in general. The book often made me angry, however, with its characteristic habits (which I find among "normal" men as well as Aspies) of blowing off anything that he personally wasn't interested in or good at as unimportant... and by chronically lumping all "normal" people as possessing certain characteristics. Reviewing this book will be a complex affair; I gave it four stars but I wouldn't say I "liked" or "enjoyed" it. It was certainly educational, about Aspies yes, but also about humanity in general. The book often made me angry, however, with its characteristic habits (which I find among "normal" men as well as Aspies) of blowing off anything that he personally wasn't interested in or good at as unimportant... and by chronically lumping all "normal" people as possessing certain characteristics. Many "normal" people experience the same sufferings that he describes, only we suck it up and learn to cope, or pretend to cope. And not all "normal" people prefer platitudes to actual conversation -- and when we do, it is often for a functional reason. So I hope he gets off his "actually, this is better" place, and grows up some more.

So the book was often infuriating.

But maybe that's just me.

I will have to think about that. I do hope to review it eventually, but for now I'm really glad I've finally finished it.

I read the paperback, which apparently has been "cleaned up" in terms of language compared to the original hardcover. The hardcover has been left raw. So read them both if you like. ...more
2

Jan 04, 2009

I was expecting this memoir to be an astonishing insight into Asperger's syndrome, a glimpse into the mind of the author. Instead, what I got was a bunch of semi-interesting stories about this dude's life, with the Asperger's aspect as almost an afterthought. Other reviews I've read have called Robison a "born storyteller" but I personally didn't find this to be all that engrossing. You'd think that one would be able to make touring with Kiss into a enjoyable story...but the writing was so I was expecting this memoir to be an astonishing insight into Asperger's syndrome, a glimpse into the mind of the author. Instead, what I got was a bunch of semi-interesting stories about this dude's life, with the Asperger's aspect as almost an afterthought. Other reviews I've read have called Robison a "born storyteller" but I personally didn't find this to be all that engrossing. You'd think that one would be able to make touring with Kiss into a enjoyable story...but the writing was so robotic that it wasn't holding my attention very well. I suppose that's part of the syndrome itself, which is why I'm giving this a second star. It was ok. ...more
3

Apr 02, 2008

Hmm, it's hard to write this review because I don't want to sound mean-spirited at any point. I did enjoy this book quite a lot, although sometimes I wasn't sure if he was being funny/sarcastic or completely serious. (I tend to think the latter.) I worked exclusivly with an adolescent with Asperger's for about six months and it was an exhausting experience. While Robinson insists he has feelings (and they can be hurt) (which is a good thing to remind people without experience with autism Hmm, it's hard to write this review because I don't want to sound mean-spirited at any point. I did enjoy this book quite a lot, although sometimes I wasn't sure if he was being funny/sarcastic or completely serious. (I tend to think the latter.) I worked exclusivly with an adolescent with Asperger's for about six months and it was an exhausting experience. While Robinson insists he has feelings (and they can be hurt) (which is a good thing to remind people without experience with autism spectrum disorders) I think he demonstrates throughout the book that people with Asperger's simply cannot ever put themselves in anyone else's shoes. Instead of at least thinking "Okay, this person is telling me X, and while I can't understand it, I'll at least accept that THEY think X" Robinson (and the student I worked with) go on and on and on and on and ON about why the other person thinking or feeling X is completely WRONG. That kind of bugged me. It's not just that they can't empathize, it's that they feel the other person's feelings aren't valid, and will go to lengths to demonstrate why. I did get quite a bit out of this book, though; I was very interested when he explained why "people like him" literally cannot look people in the eye. I have heard that people with autism see faces very differently than people who don't have autism do--it's information like that that should help people without autism spectrum disorders have much more patience and understanding. You wouldn't tell a person with a broken leg to just get over it and walk, and trying to force people with austism spectrum disorders to do things the way "the rest of us" do them is just...what's the word...well, ridiculous, if not cruel. ...more
5

Feb 23, 2008

I've been looking for a book like this since summer when my 10-year-old was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. I was confused about what his future prospects were. What could I expect? Would he be living with me the rest of his life? Could he be productive in society? Since that time I have heard of other Aspergians who have been successful to varying degrees but have never talked to one about their experiences. "Look me in the eye" gives that viewpoint in rich detail from a man who not only I've been looking for a book like this since summer when my 10-year-old was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. I was confused about what his future prospects were. What could I expect? Would he be living with me the rest of his life? Could he be productive in society? Since that time I have heard of other Aspergians who have been successful to varying degrees but have never talked to one about their experiences. "Look me in the eye" gives that viewpoint in rich detail from a man who not only has experienced it but who can insightfully explain why he responded the way he did in certain situations. He has the ability to step through his thought process to pinpoint where his thinking differs from the "Normal" person. And it all makes sense. So much so that I first began wondering if his way of thinking didn't make more sense, then wondering if Aspergian aren't more normal than the normal person, and finally, "Maybe I'm a bit Aspergerish myself."

Not everyone will be able to relate to his life (from a fairly normal family, to an abusive family, to severely mentally handicapped parents, out of school at 16, and on the road with KISS by age 18) but his struggles with relationships and understanding are universal. The only caveat I would mention is the language is rather rough throughout the book, and if you have a son who is already predispositioned toward sick and elaborate practical jokes, don't let him read this. However, if you are a parent of an Aspergian, this should be required reading. ...more
5

Sep 12, 2007

This is one of the best books I've read all year - and the cover is fantastic too. I've been reading the author's blog (jerobison.blogspot.com) and find myself wanting to read the book again. It's really one guy's story about trying to get through life - but he happens to be Augusten Burrough's brother, he worked for KISS for several years and he has Asperger's - well-written, clever and funny in so many ways.
1

May 25, 2016

I really wanted to like this book. I was reading it for a class and had to compare it to other accounts of people with Asperger's. However, not only did I dislike it due to the poor writing, but also because it really didn't seem to agree with Robison's assessment of Asperger's. A lot of what he attributes to the condition (dangerous pranks, manipulation, lying) seems less to do with him being an Aspie than him just being a jerk. I couldn't see the humor in his interactions or his pranks, (Like I really wanted to like this book. I was reading it for a class and had to compare it to other accounts of people with Asperger's. However, not only did I dislike it due to the poor writing, but also because it really didn't seem to agree with Robison's assessment of Asperger's. A lot of what he attributes to the condition (dangerous pranks, manipulation, lying) seems less to do with him being an Aspie than him just being a jerk. I couldn't see the humor in his interactions or his pranks, (Like leaving his brother head first in a deep hole, or making "cocaine" at work) despite his dismissal in epilogue claiming no one got hurt.

I was also rubbed the wrong way by the tone of the book. I realize that Robison overcame a lot in his life, but his writing came off too smug for me to have any other emotions other than dislike towards him. For example, he claims that he single handedly saves the toy company that he worked for (Not that he got any credit). I also found it frustrating that he desired to be understood and treated with respect by others, but lacked the same courtesy towards others. For example in his chapter about naming, he talks about naming people what he like (He calls his wife Unit 2, and his parents Slave and Stupid), but gets angry when they don't respect his made-up names.


Last, I was troubled with Robison's chapter about how Asperger's is essentially a choice. He writes how he was able to improve his communication and his interactions with the outside world. He was able to do this because he "chose Door #1" and didn't withdraw into himself. He feels badly for children who "choose Door #2" and become uncommunicative. I feel like by making Asperger's seem like a choice, it disrespects and blames the children (and their families) who are on a different part of the spectrum. ...more
2

Dec 05, 2008

This book was a bit odd. It wasn't really about Asperger's as much as it was the story of Robison's life thus far - he wasn't diagnosed with any type of autistic disorder until he was in his later 30s. There were parts that were quite interesting, but nothing seemed really cohesive. Not bad, exactly, just not great.

****4/15 - This book was so unmemorable to me, I accidentally rebought it when it was the Kindle Deal of the Day. Crap.
5

Sep 15, 2011

I loved this book. It's the true story of a boy named John Robison's struggle to connect with people. He wonders why he isn't like other kids and why they don't hang around with him. When he's a teenager, he is always dismantling things like radios and burying his little brother in holes in the ground. All this has him looked upon as weirdo. His mother speaks to light fixtures and his farther is always drunk in the evenings, so John's only friends seem to be the machines he tinkers with - least I loved this book. It's the true story of a boy named John Robison's struggle to connect with people. He wonders why he isn't like other kids and why they don't hang around with him. When he's a teenager, he is always dismantling things like radios and burying his little brother in holes in the ground. All this has him looked upon as weirdo. His mother speaks to light fixtures and his farther is always drunk in the evenings, so John's only friends seem to be the machines he tinkers with - least they are reliable in his mind.

Finally, at the age of forty John gets some answers when a therapist informs him that he has a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome, which changed the way Robison sees himself, and the world.

Because I was a very mischievous child myself, I found this story really interesting and couldn't help feeling sorry for this boy as a child and how lonely he must have been. I struggled to learn as a child, but I was lucky enough to have a happy childhood, full of friends and siblings to play with and wonderful parents.

John Robison's story is a funny autobiography of a child growing up with Asberger's Syndrome. John tells the story in such a funny and interesting way so that the reader know what it was like and gives an insight into his thoughts. He also tells how he had to leave his little brother with their two nutty parents, though that boy grew up to also be an author and wrote 'Writing with Scissors', which I'm dying to read.

John learns in his adult years to connect to people like he always wanted and gets married. I added this part as it inspires people with these type of problems, either with their children or themselves, to read books such as this. John is a great gifted person and an inspiration as well as being a great writer and comedian. I highly recommend this book. ...more
4

Oct 29, 2008

This is a very interesting book. Too bad he wasn't diagnosed at a younger age and he wouldn't have had to discover everything for himself. It makes me want to be more understanding of people with this and other syndromes. If
there is supposedly 1 out of 150 people with this syndrome, I think I know some and will be less critical of their behavior.
3

Apr 20, 2011

I did a whole bloody review and it disappeared.
When I stop being cross about it I will write a proper one. Maybe.
I wish there was an automatic save function as there is on some blogging sites.
Hate hate hate losing a review.

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