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Look Me In the Eye (June 02, 2008 - 1:56 a.m.)

I just finished the most amazing book I've read in a long time. It's called Look Me In the Eye: my life with asperger's, by John Elder Robison.

If you are familiar at all with Autism, you probably know a little something about Asperger's, which is a very high-functioning syndrome in the Autistic Spectrum.

The author of the book has Asperger's syndrome and relates his experiences with it throughout his life. As a result of his syndrome, the book is a little hard to follow, at least time-line-wise. One chapter, he is driving a Porsche 100+mph down the highway, while in the next, he is 13 again, not able to drive yet. It jumps around a lot.

That being said, I read this book pretty quickly for me. There were periods where I just couldn't put it down.

John is a pretty brilliant person, but failed a lot in school and wound up dropping out altogether. Not too long after that, he found himself designing and repairing sound equipment for KISS (Yeah, really!!) and going on tour with them. He worked with a lot of bands during that time. Later, he worked for Milton Bradley, designing electronics for them, where he worked on the first talking game ever made.

There are a lot of experiences related here, many of which detail his lack of social skills as a child, which resulted in him not having very many friends. He didn't even know about Asperger's until, as an adult, a doctor gave him a book about it and made him read it.

When I finished the book, I was just about crying. He makes so much progress in his understanding of his condition. He's still an "Aspergian," as he calls himself, but has learned how to interact with people, how to say the right things at the right time. Here is my favorite line in the book:

All the bad things that have happened to me in my life have simply increased my resolve to overcome the obstacles that are thrown in my path. And I've done that with reasonable success so far.

I'll say he has! He now runs a highly successful, high-end, auto repair shop in Amherst, Massachusetts. People come to him from all over the country to get their cars fixed.

If only more of us could think like he does. If we all used the "bad" things that happen to us to increase our resolve to overcome our obstacles...what a world this could be. John Elder Robison has been an inspiration to me.

Get this book. Read it. Now.

TTFN, y'all!

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