John Elder Robinson has Asperger’s. He was not diagnosed until he was in his 40’s, but his entire life he knew he was different.
Robinson explains many of the aspects of Asperger’s that he struggles with. He says that each person with Asperger’s is not exactly the same and some people are completely different than him.
He never liked to be touched. He doesn’t like to call people by their given names. He has nicknames for his wife, his son, and all his family members. Some names he calls them aren’t flattering, but they are an accurate description of the way he sees them.
He was always viewed as strange because he doesn’t pick up on normal social cues. Robinson feels that most people view those with Asperger’s as antisocial or loners. Many people with Asperger’s do prefer to be alone most of the time. Robinson said for him, it is the opposite. He really wants to fit in but most people decide he is strange the first time they meet and he has a hard time making new friends. He avoids making eye contact (which has always made him feel like a social outcast, but it is hard for him to look people in the eye while talking). He has never understood the point of small talk.
Robinson has some traits of Asperger’s that have benefited him throughout his life. He has always enjoyed taking things apart to see how they work. From radios to cars, he would dismantle them and put them back together. For a long time he worked in the music industry, putting together special effects for stage shows. He even toured with KISS for a while, building pyrotechnics that set their live shows apart from other bands. After trying out a few other jobs (where he pulled off some pretty funny pranks), he is now doing something he loves – restoring classic cars.
Robinson has noticed some traits of Asperger’s in his son, such as the fascination with the way things function. He hopes that if his son does have Asperger’s, he won’t be teased and bullied as much as Robinson was. Robinson is hoping that by raising awareness of Asperger’s it will help others, especially children like his son, receive the proper diagnosis. Robinson felt much better once there was a name he could put to all the strange feelings and quirky behaviors he’s always had. He now doesn’t get as frustrated when he doesn’t understand something or blurts out something embarrassing because he knows he is different.
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s is interesting because Robinson tells his stories in his own voice. He is not worried about what the reader thinks of his choices. He doesn’t bother adding any fluff. Robinson tells his stories, stating facts and explaining how sees the world. The reader really gets a feel for how his mind processes what he sees and how he expresses himself differently. This memoir is entirely engaging. It’s full of moments that are laugh-out-loud funny, times that are heartbreakingly sad, interesting anecdotes about the way his mind works, and facts about autism and Asperger’s.