Prior to John Elder Robison writing his novel about living with Asperger's, his brother, Augusten Burroughs, showcased their family in his memoir "Running With Scissors". This novel became a movie in 2006. A year or so later, after some encouragement from family and friends, John Elder Robison's novel "Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger's" was published. Continue reading for an overview of the novel as well as my thoughts on why it would be a great addition to your clinical library!
John Elder Robison grew up with Asperger's syndrome but was not formally diagnosed until he was about 40 years old. Throughout his childhood, he states in the novel that he had difficulty making friends, initiating and maintaining conversation, appropriately discussing conversational topics, and understanding figurative language. He also discusses sensory difficulties and how due to the fact that Asperger's was not well-known (and he was not formally diagnosed), his teachers had difficulty knowing how to help him in school. This, as well as family difficulties (an alcoholic father and mother with psychiatric problems), caused him to drop out of school in 10th grade. Even though he had difficulty with many aspects of social language, he was able to put himself in social situations and work hard to get a job using his self-taught engineering skills to work with the bands Pink Floyd and KISS on their guitars as well as pyrotechnics while they traveled on the road. After working with the bands, he decided to settle down a bit and work for Milton Bradley on their toys. Finally, he ended up starting his own business fixing cars.
Throughout the novel, Robison discusses looks back on many symptoms of his Asperger's throughout his life before he was diagnosed and how they made more sense. He discusses relationships, education, living situations, friendships, family, work, marriage, raising a child and more and how he learned to cope as well as manage some of his symptoms of Asperger's syndrome.
In order to better understand adolescents and adults with Asperger's, it is important to read novels showing the perspectives of adolescents and adults who have Asperger's. It allows us to understand therapy, social situations, language skills, sensory, anxiety, and more from their perspective. In addition, it lets us who work in the public school know what life is like for adults with Aspergers after we work with them throughout their education. This novel is great to have in your clinical library to be able to not only reference as needed but lend to parents of students who have Asperger's. Finally, it is a great novel to have because it shows a success story of a person with Asperger's (from an engineer to a business owner to a writer). It is an easy read as Robison is very honest with readers and is a great storyteller. I definitely recommend this novel to parents of children who have Asperger's and therapists who work with people who have Asperger's!
You can purchase this book for your clinical library on Amazon.com for $9.75.