John Elder Robison is a name that pops up in the online autism community from time to time. When that happened I was never sure why he was well known. Also, with my problems with names, every time I saw “John Elder Robinson” I confused him with Tony Attwood’s information. Now that I have read John Elder’s memoir, I think I will no longer make that mistake.
This book was not what I was expecting. Frankly, I was expecting more mention of autism/Asperger’s. That was my whole purpose for buying and reading it. I thought that perhaps I was mistaken in expecting that, until I remembered the subtitle: My Life with Asperger’s. The book was a lot more life than Asperger’s. So if you are reading this to learn about autism, and this is your first or only source, this may not be the book for you. When talking about the book on my private facebook I did encounter a mother who felt she learned all she needed to learn about ASD1 from this one book. Perhaps it was less helpful to me because there was nothing new or unfamiliar to me.
That is not to say that I did not enjoy this book. It was a very interesting book, and easy to read/get sucked into. The author lead a life full of adventures that I doubt would be possible in today’s world. I don’t want to spoil them, but they are well worth reading about. Especially if you are interested in stories of gifted and/or twice exceptional (2E) people. The incessant imposter syndrome even in the face of many successes will be familiar to 2E readers.
I also do appreciate his positivity about neurodiversity. If this is a neurotypical parent of an autistic child’s first introduction to how autism forms a growing child’s mind, it is a better start than a lot of other incredibly negative things out there. There is abuse in the author’s childhood, so if you are very sensitive to mentions of that, this may not be the book for you. If you are looking for a fascinating memoir about a very interesting life, this is a book for you. If you are looking for insight into an autistic mind I will recommend this book with a caveat: don’t expect specific mention of autism in every chapter.