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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 cool book to enjoy. 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 about how people are treated with Asperger s Some are not treated bad but we all know the world, there seems to be 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 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, 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. 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. Ever Since He Was Small, John Robison Had 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 In Them Had Earned Him The Label Social Deviant No Guidance Came From His Mother, Who Conversed With Light Fixtures, Or His Father, Who Spent Evenings Pickling Himself In Sherry It Was No Wonder He Gravitated To Machines, Which Could, At Least, Be Counted OnAfter Fleeing His Parents And Dropping Out Of High School, His Savant Like Ability To Visualize Electronic Circuits Landed Him A Gig With KISS, For Whom He Created Their Legendary Fire Breathing Guitars Later, He Drifted Into A Real Job, As An Engineer For A Major Toy Company But The Higher Robison Rose In The Company, The He Had To Pretend To Be Normal And Do What He Simply Couldn T Communicate It Wasn T Worth The PaycheckIt Was Not Until He Was Forty That An Insightful Therapist Told Him He Had The Form Of Autism Called Asperger S Syndrome That Understanding Transformed The Way Robison Saw Himself And The World Look Me In The Eye Is The Moving, Darkly Funny Story Of Growing Up With Asperger S At A Time When The Diagnosis Simply Didn T Exist A Born Storyteller, Robison Takes You Inside The Head Of A Boy Whom Teachers And Other Adults Regarded As Defective, Who Could Not Avail Himself Of KISS S Endless Supply Of Groupies, And Who Still Has A Peculiar Aversion To Using People S Given Names He Calls His Wife Unit Two He Also Provides A Fascinating Reverse Angle On The Younger Brother He Left At The Mercy Of Their Nutty Parents The Boy Who Would Later Change His Name To Augusten Burroughs And Write The Bestselling Memoir Running With ScissorsUltimately, This Is The Story Of Robison S Journey From His World Into Ours, And His New Life As A Husband, Father, And Successful Small Business Owner Repairing His Beloved High End Automobiles It S A Strange, Sly, Indelible Account Sometimes Alien, Yet Always Deeply Human 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 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 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 down to earth and understandable way, and she s likable This book looks 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. I bought this book on a whim so that my order would get free shipping from.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, 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. OKAY THIS WAS GLORIOUS I m always nervous of memoirs and, particularly, adult booksbecause 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 chapter and I ll go to bedum, just one just oneAddictive 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 readugh 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. 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 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. 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 s, 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 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.