Look Me in the Eye

Oh, this book. This books is changing my life. This book, more so than all the other books I’ve read on autism, is changing the way I look at and want to interact with my son. My son, the puzzle piece. My son, the confusing baby who hated everything that calmed my other children. My son. who I took to the doctor at least once a month as a baby, begging them to help me figure out why he was constantly miserable. My son who hates bubbles in the bath because the popping bothers his skin. My son, who squeezes into small spaces and fills his backpack with canned pineapple from the pantry and wears it around the house. My son, walking on his tippy-toes, eating only peanut butter and Ritz crackers, and squeezing into too-tight clothes in a quest for pressure. This book gives me something none of the academic or PhD researched books on autism can even touch. This book gives me the perspective of the child, the young man, and the adult, as he grew up with Aspergers.

John Elder Robison has Aspergers, and this is his memoir. He is not my son, but what he describes, in going back and sharing his early childhood, is so closely mirrored with my own son, that several times I’ve had to put the book down and walk away so I could deal with the tears l0dged in my throat. While Mr. Robison had to deal with far more disfunction than I hope our home ever sees, he is able to tell me, a mother of an Aspergers child, what it was like being in his mind. Again, he is not my son, but the similarities in children with Aspergers, how they process things and interact (or not, more likely) with the world are almost universal. Mr Robison, through writing this book, personal circumstance aside, is giving me a window through with I can better understand my own son.

Reading his story I am so grateful that I have the resources to help my son. I have a special school, therapists and a team of teachers working with my son. Today, Aspergers is a recognized neurotype, and my son will not be seen as a sociopath or incapable of having healthy human interactions. He is different. There is no cure for Aspergers- and as Mr. Robison points out, there shouldn’t be. It’s a different way of being, of thinking, and you are born that way. It doesn’t go away. The sharing of this story gives me great hope for my son. It gives me great hope as his mother, that I can better meets his needs and create an environment for him to flourish. Thank you John Elder Robison.

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13 thoughts on “Look Me in the Eye

  1. I really should read this book too; during the last few years I’ve realized that I probably have Asberger’s Syndrome, though on the higher-functioning end of the spectrum. Looking back on my childhood I wish that it had been an available diagnosis and that my parents and teachers had been aware of why I behaved the way I did.

  2. I’m learning that there are more reasons to be glad to be alive just now than there are to pine for another time and set of circumstances to live in. This is a big one.

  3. And now I am crying on my keyboard.

    Damn.

    Thank you so much for writing this book, Mr Robison. You have helped me unlock part of the puzzle that is my son, and I am grateful for your work.

    I’ve subcribed to the RSS feed for your blog.

  4. Let’s hear it for Google alerts! I bet that’s how he found this blog. Amazing world we live in, where we can talk about a book, and BAM! Here’s the author!!! So cool that he commented. I have the book on hold at the library – can’t wait to read it.

  5. One word of warning: It’s not an easy, lighthearted read. It’s hard. His life was hard.

    Also: The hardback is the unabridged edition, and has not been edited for profanity or some other things. He issued the paperback edited for some content/language because school groups have been using it for studying and other things. Just be aware, if you pick up the hardcover from the library, it’s an even harder read.

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