This is the story of John Elder Robison, who wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until he was 40. Robison’s memoir details his childhood, his difficulty making friends, his alcoholic and abusive father, his mentally unstable mother, his little brother (the author Augusten Burroughs) and his own difficulty living a normal life when he didn’t know what was wrong with him.
Doing poorly in school, Robison is assigned the work of fixing broken audio-visual equipment and proves himself quite a genius in this field. When he eventually drops out of school to work on a band’s equipment, he finally finds a place where he fits in because being odd is the norm. These jobs lead him to crazy places with great stories, eventually working on the smoking/flaming rocket guitars for the band KISS or the early electronic games for Milton Bradley. He eventually gives up on the music world, followed by the corporate world and starts his own business fixing high-end cars. It is here that a therapist customer of his correctly diagnoses him with autism, more specifically, Asperger’s.
Robison is a wonderful storyteller and he has amazing stories to tell, but this is also a great insight into the mind of someone with Asperger’s. He’s a highly functioning adult now, but he can still identify what in his behavior is abnormal, and he can still remember the hardships of his childhood when all he wanted was to be able to make friends.
Rated: High, for use of strong language throughout and references to drugs and alcohol (although Robison himself avoided drugs for the most part).