Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger'sThis post was supposed to be up on Monday, the last day of April.  April being Autism Awareness Month, I thought it was appropriate.  However technical difficulties ensued and so it's going up too late for the month designated for awareness, but I personally feel it's never too late to be made aware (or more aware as the case may be for some) of what life is like for people living with autism and/or Asperger's.  Look Me in the Eye is John Robison's first-hand account of growing up and living as an adult with Asperger's.  Mr. Robison has only realized as an adult that what he has experienced his whole life - difficulty connecting with others, the ability to concentrate on one thing to the point of obsession, and problems identifying and following unspoken social norms and cues - has a name: Asperger's Syndrome.

{Side note: When the APA starts using the DSM-V as part of diagnosing mental disorders, Asperger's and PDD-NOS will cease to be diagnosed as such.  Instead they will fall under the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  For one thing, something doesn't change its properties just because we give it a different name.  A rose by any other name smells just as sweet and all that.  But at the same time, if the change in nomenclature means a difference in services prescribed then I'm worried.  Mr. Robison did not need the same services my daughter needs.  He has struggled with social skills, as does my daughter though she also struggles with language, communication, and basic self-care.  Under the new DSM, they would have the same diagnosis and possibly the same resources.  That would not be appropriate in my opinion. Anyway........}

Mr. Robison had a troubled childhood and not just due to his Asperger's.  Anyone who has read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs has had a glimpse at Mr. Robison's childhood.  He and Mr. Burroughs are brothers.  Mostly their childhood was plagued by alcoholism, abuse, and mental health issues.  John was the older of the boys and "liberated" himself as a young teen by moving out.  Eventually he dropped out of high school.  He used his abilities to fix sound equipment and truly visualize musical wavelengths as a means of employment.  He worked at for some clubs and different local bands keeping their sound equipment functional.  Eventually he made a name for himself in the rock music community, and was hired by a legendary band at the height of their popularity.  Anyone with a love for the band KISS, should read this memoir for the interesting perspective Mr. Robison's experiences with the band provides.  He toured with them as an engineer of sorts, doing everything from repairing amps to designing and producing the more theatrical musical equipment the band used on stage; smoking guitars, guitars with searchlights, and guitars that exploded for example.

All through this, Mr. Robison still found it difficult to connect with other people.  He did marry (twice), but his first marriage suffered due to several things not the least of which his lack of understanding his own "disorder."  The book is well-written and organized in essays, like many memoirs, so the chronology is not strictly straight.  However, that won't be a problem.  I was touched by how Mr. Robison described finding out about Asperger's and the impact that had on his life.  Knowing that his various challenges were part of something that he couldn't will away on his own, allowed him to shake the feeling that he was "broken."  I was also touched by how it was possible that things could have been easier for him if he had had a diagnosis and resources at an early age.  Of course, then there's the lack of stability in his home life to also address, but still.  He says himself that he grew up at a time when Asperger's was relatively unknown.  All the more reason we need more awareness in my opinion.  
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1 comment:

  1. I think the change to an ASD diagnosis won't hurt people on the spectrum. I'm going with the whole "you can't unring a bell" outlook. Hopefully, recognizing that people with Asperger's are part of the same disease even thought they might not "look" autistic will get everyone the services they need, instead of taking things away. We'll see.

    I debate with myself about giving these types of books to One, who is PDD-NOS (for now!). I want him to recognize that he isn't alone, but I don't know about the extra melodramatic details. I'm just rambling now.

    Thanks for the review! If folks just took a minute to look around, they'd know every month is Autism Awareness Month.