It being the busiest time of the year, I don't have much time for reading books right now. However, I just came across one that will be on the top of my list of must reads once the holiday season ends. Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison," caught my eye in an online review titled Seeing-yourself-in-autism by New York Times writer, Tara Parker Pope.
Hint to hubby who shops on Amazon: This hardcover book is only $15.57 on the site! Robison, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's, first intrigued book lovers as a character in Austen Burrough's best-selling memoir Running with Scissors. Robison is Burrough's brother.
I loved the cover of the book (a little boy with his eyes squeezed shut.) Yes, I'm quite familiar with the saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover." However, the last time I bought a book based its cover was ten years or so ago when a book about a certain young wizard first hit bookstore shelves. The cover of that book, the first of seven in the very well-known series, gave me the feeling that its contents were special.
It's unlikely that Robison's book will sell as well as the one I just mentioned. However, I have a feeling that it will become classic of Aspie or Aspergian literature. For an interview with Robison, please go to the blog, Loaded Questions with Kelly Hewitt. She interviewed the author in September of 2007 when the book was released.
Anyway, the New York Times reviewer hints at a potential downside to the visibility of well known people. When people learn about Robison, Heather Kuzmich (a model), and Tim Page (music critic), then it is possible everyone and his brother might start thinking that they have the disorder. Certainly, the popular description of Asperger's can be both appealing and intriguing: bright, talented, and functional in society, but with an inability to pick up social cues.
However, please note that this condition can have painful side effects. Social exclusion, social rejection, and severe bullying often occur. These side effects have the real possibility of damaging self esteem and might even be attributed to causing depression.
I'm not an expert, but I imagine even the most socially adept person on the planet has made a social mistake resulting in painful consequences. However, if your parents or guardians (if you had caring ones) never worried about your ability to function in social setting and if you had friends and were invited to parties, then chances are you don't have it.
Even if there were social difficulties in your past, it may have been due to social anxiety, or some other disorder. I am still learning about Asperger's Syndrome. As I have said before, I wondered about myself having the syndrome. As a result, I have been told by certain wise people to seek out a qualified professional if I think it will be beneficial. This is wiser than giving oneself a self-diagnosis.
Putting the slippery slope of people giving themselves self-diagnosis aside, I do appreciate the people on the spectrum that are visible, including Robison. As for the author's insights on books on autism, here is a revealing view taken from the interview:
"[...] I did my first public appearance, with several other authors. The other writers were novelists who'd made up Aspergian figures, or moms who wrote about their kids. There was a dramatic difference in how that writing was received, as compared to mine. Especially among the autistic people in the crowd. That showed me there was a real hunger for stories from the horse's mouth, as it were, instead of someone watching the horse from outside the pasture."
People appreciate hearing about what it is like to be on the spectrum. While I hope that the efforts of blogger moms like me are also appreciated, I realize that the most fascinating perspectives come straight from the people who have the Asperger's Syndrome or Autism. I look forward to reading Robison's book.