I had previously written about Temple Grandin’s story in a previous post about how extraordinary her perspective is on her autism diagnosis and how she lived with it then and how it’s changed now. You can absolutely add John Elder Robison’s perspective to the list of nonfiction reads about people growing up in a ‘different’ world.
The brother of Augusten Burroughs, Robison also lends his view on his parents’ crumbling marriage, alcoholism, and mental illness that Burroughs details in his books. But the value of the story is in his comparison to how his Asperger’s was dealt with and looked upon when he was a child and how he lives as an adult, able to appreciate his savant tendencies to focus on something deeply. In the past it was electronics and digging holes and as he aged it was cars, specifically engines, and guitars–leading to work with famous bands and a lifelong hobby of detailing high-end cars.
The book isn’t without hi-jinx and trouble with many anecdotes that would have landed him in a facility or lockup today that are humorous, dangerous, and everything in between. I was entranced by his storytelling and self-awareness and less focused when he discussed the humdrum of his everyday existence or specifics of his time in the music and toy work worlds.
The potential of the story lies in his connection with other people who are different to showcase everyone’s amazing talents regardless of labels and abilities, which is a necessary voice to those that feel different and don’t know how to capitalize on it.