Dear John Elder Robison,
I have just finished reading your book Look Me in the Eye, My Life with Asperger’s and I am in awe. Like you, I also found out as an adult, it was only a year ago when I was thirty-six and I am still struggling with trying to understand it all. Actually, a lot of the struggle concerns other people who cannot stop repeating that there is nothing wrong with me. (Like I did not know that…) I have read all the books about Asperger I have been able to get my hands on but most of them are about children and how to deal with their problems, young boys who will throw a fit if someone tries to make them dress in a blue shirt on Red Wednesday. Your book is the first one I have read that describes many of the problems I have faced, it has been fantastic to read about someone with high functioning Asperger. It has been equally amazing to be able to recognize yourself in someone else without having to first strip away all the strangeness of “normal”. That absolute joy of reading about someone who is like me in the ways most people are not. I cannot stress how important that has been. Your book is rare and precious. Thank you.
I have smiled when reading about your need to know how things work, taking them apart to see if you can figure it out. When I was five, my father started bringing home old electrical gadgets from his work so I would not open the newly bought stereo when he turned his back. And the naming of people… I almost never call people my homemade names to their faces (because you really cannot call someone Deployment Hitler just because he wants to decide everything in every IT release at work) since they become upset. But I have my own names for many people. Had no idea that was an Aspergian thing. And then all those feelings of being different than most people and not knowing why or how to do it better and discovering Aspergers and the enormous relief it brought. Finally getting answers. But also the anger over all those years when I was suffering and did not know why, when I got hurt and hurt other people just because I did not know how to read their reactions.
I found your book by coincidence. Since I have a blog about books, I also read a lot of other blogs about books, and about a week ago I found a post at Bokhora about photographs of reading people in the New York subway. And when I was looking at the pictures I noticed the word “Asperger” in the corner of my eye. A woman was reading your book. Of course I went on Google immediately and then I placed an order as fast as I could. Now I wish I could say ‘thank you’ to that woman reading it in the subway, thank you for helping me find it.
I virtually never cry but when reading the prologue of your book I got tears in my eyes. Your words: Asperger’s is not a disease. It’s a way of being. There is no cure, nor is there a need for one sum up everything for me. Because a cure is the one thing most people ask about when finding out. “Can you get better? Is there a pill you can take?” On bad days I have been known to answer: “Is there a pill you can take to remove your personality?” But most of the time I just say no and change the subject. From now on I will use your words: no, there is no need for a cure.
Now I will order your other book, Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers, as soon as I can.
And once again: Thank you.
(Who in her teenage years read this tip in a magazine about dating: “If you feel uncomfortable looking someone in their eyes, instead look at the bridge of that persons nose, it gives the impression of eye contact.” And I have been getting by quite well with that trick ever since.)