Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian Paperback – Apr 24 2012
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“For anyone who has difficulty fitting in, this book is fantastic.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures
“In places, Be Different is downright funny. . . . But when [Robison] recounts how hurt he feels when people say he doesn’t seem to care . . . this book becomes a heartbreaking, eloquent plea for understanding.”
“Robison, who learned the hard way that coping in the real world is really just a matter of learning manners and social conventions, fills his book with practical advice for young Aspergians, using himself as an example.”
“His new book, Be Different, is an uplifting guide for people with Asbergers and their loved ones to understand themselves and each other.”
“Be Different: John Elder Robison’s new book shines. . . . There is a generation of teens and adults with autism spectrum disorders who are looking for guidance, and this book provides it. . . . If you have aspergers, ADHD, autism or if you feel left out in any way (or if you love or teach someone in any or all of the aforementioned categories), you must read this book.”
—Laura Shumaker, City Brights, San Francisco Chronicle
“In a love poem to his wife, Pedro Salinas, the Spanish poet, wrote, ‘Glory to the differences / between you and me.’ John Robison teaches us to celebrate differences like Salinas did, but also offers clear insight and valuable advice on how to cope with the challenges that being different can create. This book transcends the specific case of Asperger’s syndrome and is a lesson in humanity and the human condition.”
—Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
“Anyone with Asperger’s, if not everyone else, will derive knowledge and pleasure from the wonderful stories told in John Elder Robison’s newest book, Be Different. Clearly, John is one of our community’s leading voices.”
—Michael John Carley, author of Asperger’s from the Inside Out and executive director of GRASP and ASTEP
“Be Different is a fascinating and unique guide for young people who may be struggling with autism and feel ‘out of sync’ with the world around them. John shares personal insights about growing up, feeling apart from his peers, and learning to modify his socializing skills and harness his gifts to discover his path to a successful life.”
—Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks
“Robison offers down-to-earth life advice for his “Aspie” peers and their friends, families, and teachers... recommended reading for anyone seeking to understand Aspergian children and adults”
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
JOHN ELDER ROBISON grew up in the 1960s before the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome existed. Today he has claimed his spot on the autism spectrum; he blogs for Psychology Today and is an adjunct professor at Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts. John served on the public review board for the National Institutes of Health where he considered research proposals to study autism spectrum disorders; he is currently involved in autism research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; and he sits on the Scientific Advisory and Scientific Treatment boards of Autism Speaks. His previous book, Look Me in the Eye, was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into ten languages. He is the brother of Augusten Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors.See all Product Description
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"Be Different" offers deeper explanations of this thinking - at least as Robison has experienced it - as a child and as an adult. He reflects on how much easier his own life might have been if others had been there to guide him rather than punish him for unknown transgressions. In an attempt to enlighten those who are trying to desperately to understand, but who are handicapped by being "nypical" (non-Aspergians), he has answered some of the questions asked of him by the many caregivers and loved ones who now look to him for this guidance plus much more.
Robison has a knack for humor as he describes and analyzes events with explanations for his blank stares and misunderstandings due to differences in language interpretation. He refutes the idea that lack of response means lack of feelings, in fact, he states that the truth is quite the opposite. Some of the issues he discusses are as problematic to "nypicals" as they were to him, and his salient points apply to many children who are misunderstood by those who make assumptions instead of making the effort.
This book is a "must read" for anyone involved with loving or serving these children and who might recognized a hitherto misunderstood adult. It also might serve to enlighten related persons who need to forgive those who are not responsible for their condition. Robison's kind and wise views give heart from the heart.
I tried reading some excerpts to my son who refused to listen. He does not like to hear the words "autism" or "aspergers"- illustating that while some "aspies" find solice in sharing their growing self-awareness, others just struggle to fit in the best they can and don't want to be reminded that they are indeed "different". Some of them will love this book, others won't.
Despite being a "nyptical", I found this book to be very readable, although I had occasional dejavu feelings that I had read some of the anectdotes before. The most striking one for me was the story of John's car accident. He was able to focus on taking steps to rescue a survivor without feeling the horror that might paralyze someone else. My son explained to me that his same ability will enable him to work in a medical setting amongst the sick and dying.
"Being Different" is not the kind of book that mesmerizes- but it is a pleasure to read one chapter a night and then process it over the next morning's commute. This book has a different focus than "Look Me In the Eye" did- with greater emphasis on how the author's emotional and sensory make-up makes him deal with life the way he does. Readers who are just learning about their Asperger's diagnosis or are learning how to understand their children's needs will appreciate this book. It is yet, one more insightful memoir packed with advice and resources.
Barbara A. Smith, M.S., author of The Recycling Occupational Therapist
Mr. Robison explains certain behaviors so succinctly, we were laughing out loud in recognition and relief at having them explained so well. This book is invaluable to anyone interested in
the way the Aspie brain operates, and who would like some good advice on how to make positive use of this special way of thinking.
This book offers great, practical advice to parents, teachers, and care-givers of Asperger kids. For me, the memorable part came when he covered aspie's lack of empathy.
"Don't worry, he doesn't even notice," he heard people around him say. And this was his response.
"I may seem robotic and mechanical sometimes, but there is nothing mechanical or cold about my internal feelings...I am just as sensitive as anyone to snide remarks and criticism. I cried inside fifty years ago, and I still do today."
Well, that's where I cringed. Even though I understood that my son's lack of empathy didn't equal to not having feelings, I did the samething to my son. I didn't mean to brush him aside or make him feel invisible; I was just too used to having him not pay any attention to me and what was happening around him. Now, I truly am sorry.
Besides teaching me many good lessons, this book actually left feeling good. I put it down with the better knowledge of Asperger and a little more understanding of my son. As he told through this book, embracing being Asperger doesn't mean you can't be positive.
Okay, let me take off my "blogger" hat and say what's really on my mind. Obviously, there's so much more in this book which can't all be mentioned. I just like to say that I LOVE reading, mostly fiction. But this book was the most delicious non-fiction I've ever read, well, if non-fiction could be delicious. It's worth your time, I promise:)