“Look Me In The Eye” by John Elder Robison

Recently my parents bought me the book “Look Me in The Eye” by John Elder Robison. I found an audio CD of the book that was read by the author for sale on Amazon.com. I find it easier to listen to the author read the book then just sit there and read it. Depending on the material we’re learning about, I learn it easier by listening. For the most part, I consider myself an auditory learner. The book talked about his life with Asperger’s Syndrome, and how it affected his social performance throughout his life. He lived a very tough childhood, his father was an abusive alcoholic and from what I remember his mother suffered from severe depression. Because of this, his parents never gave him support about his social difficulties. Because of these issues, he dropped out of high school in the 10th grade. John Elder started his successful career when he started working with the rock band KISS. There, he designed exploding, fire-shooting special effect guitars for Ace Freshley.

After years of working with KISS, he was employed at a company that designs electronic games. His social difficulties prevented him from advancing in the job, as a result he quit his job. From there, he started his hobby of working with cars. He worked on cars when he was in high school, and he wanted to start it again. He wanted to make money doing the thing he loved, but he wasn’t sure how. Then came J.E Robison service. His business repairs and customizes cars, and it became one of the most successful independent repair shops in New England. He discovered he had Asperger’s Syndrome from a therapist who came to his repair business. He showed him the book “Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals”. When he read the book, he said the book perfectly described him.

I am glad I found out about Asperger’s Syndrome when I was young. I was in about second or third grade when I found out about it. If John Elder found out about it long before he did, things would have been much different for him. Because of his father’s abusive drunkenness and his mothers severe depression, he did not get any help from his disorder. Professionals often misdiagnosed him for disorders like schizophrenia. I am getting very sick of people gossiping about me and giving me labels such as “anti-social”, “psychopath”, “retard”, “loser” or “freak”. I am not any of those things, I want social interaction with people and I want to fit. I’ve dealt with pushy, overly involved therapists and counselors who thought they understood my diagnosis and how it affected me. They obviously didn’t! I am perfectly capable of making friends with the people I want to be friends with, and if they don’t want to be friends with me it is their loss. I am willing to be friends with anybody who accepts me for the kind of guy that I am and who won’t be judgmental and give me stereotypes. I am not going to be upset about not having twenty “casual friends” like most teenagers I know. I am going to try to find one close friend who will respect me and stand up for me. I don’t really have friends that will let me be myself, and I am real upset about that. Kids my age believe the labels the fools give me. Because of that, I don’t have that many friends in school. If I didn’t find out about my Asperger’s Syndrome when I did, I could have considered dropping out of high school like John Elder did.

I am thankful that I have people who support me and accept me for who I am. This book was very painful to read because of the things that John Elder had to experience. His father mistreated him by hitting and not just plain not believing in him. He is very lucky to have gotten where he is now. These days, you need to have education to get just about anywhere. I realize the importance of education, but the thing is we don’t have teachers that are certified to work with Autistic kids. A classic example of this is the story “Gerald Mcboing-Boing” by Dr Seuss. The story is about a young boy named Gerald Mcloy, instead of using real words he would make a “boing boing” noise. His parents called a doctor to try to find out what was wrong with him, but the doctor could not figure out what was wrong with him. His parents thought that sending him to school would teach him how to use words instead of making noises, but it didn’t go well. When he got home from school, his parents left him a note telling him that he was completely hopeless and that he would keep making noises for the rest of his life. Gerald did not realize that when he makes noises, nobody wanted to be around him. He then became very upset and ran away from home. Gerald’s “inappropriate noise” making eventually landed him a job at their local radio station. He got a job doing the thing that people love to do the most, which was make noises. When a child with Autism or Asperger’s demonstrates any kind of inappropriate behavior, teachers often get the impression that they are “ignorant and hopeless”. John Elder Robinson struggled in school because of his fathers alcoholism and his mother’s severe depression and, as you heard earlier he dropped out of high school because of the social shunning and his difficulties at home with his parents. He overcame that depression and he eventually became one of the most successful aspergians to ever live. This book is recommended for all people to read, especially parents and teachers. Hopefully after reading both the book and my review of it, you understand Asperger’s Syndrome more.