Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian
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Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,498 ratings  ·  203 reviews
“I believe those of us with Asperger’s are here for a reason, and we have much to offer. This book will help you bring out those gifts.”

In his bestselling memoir, Look Me in the Eye, John Elder Robison described growing up with Asperger’s syndrome at a time when the diagnosis didn’t exist. He was intelligent but socially isolated; his talents won him jobs with toy makers a...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Doubleday Canada (first published January 1st 2011)
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I finished Be Different almost a month ago, but I’ve been thinking about it all this time, trying to decide what to write. Robison’s latest book is as well-written and entertaining as his first book, Look Me In the Eye. I think I’ve hesitated to write about Be Different because I see so much of myself in the anecdotes. I see more of my son, which makes sense, as he’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s, but there’s a lot of me in there, too. Even having acknowledged several months ago that I have som...more
I felt affirmed by this book, and the highlights I made in the Kindle version are going to be handy bookmarks to remind myself of the author's advice about improving my social awareness. All of us in my family are "Aspergians" to different extents, and the more I read makes me realize that my mother also is on the spectrum, which made it difficult for me to get n-typical feedback about how to get by when I was growing up. Books like these from the "autism speaks" community (including Temple Gran...more
Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian by John Elder Robison is a treasure-for people on the autism spectrum, their friends, families, teachers, and, maybe, for everyone interested in the different ways people are wired in this world and how that feels from the inside. It is also, I suspect, a useful self-help book, a sharing from one person on the spectrum to others who might want to figure out how better to live in a neurotypical world with some degree of comfort and happiness.


“For anyone who has difficulty fitting in, this book is fantastic.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

“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 less

I'm an Aspie-loving Momma who feels this book must be read by anyone who is personally impacted by Asperger's Syndrome - as the Aspie, as a teacher, or as a family member. It was tremendously insightful to peek into the reasoning of an Aspergian as a tool toward understanding. I have begged my daughter to read it due to the continuing thread throughout the book that an Aspie is truly capable of more than the average individual if depression or discouragement is overcome. Through relating and ack...more
A book written directly for people with Aspergers and their parents and teachers, to explain how neurotypical people use social skills that can be learned to have satisfying productive lives. The author shares many of his life stories with his thoughts and reactions and how others perceived them. Then he describes when he decided to work on each of his skills and how he went about it.
Short chapters move the book along quickly. The stories generally show that the repeated efforts of others faile...more
Good overall content, but author fails to acknowledge female readers. I didn't expect him to offer dating advice for girls the way he does for boys because he, after all, had never been a girl. It would be nice, however, if he didn't alienate female readers entirely in those moments he talked about "girls"--and there were a lot of them--especially since this book was purported to function as a "guide" for all Aspergians and misfits, which I presumed to include females as well as males. His son's...more
Our family has struggled with more problems getting help for my son than will fit in this box. Finally, after he had serious enough issues, he was hospitalized this Spring. There, we received a very helpful diagnosis: Asperger's Syndrome. It made so much sense. At 12 years old, even he, felt a sense of relief. This book adds something else to that relief: hope and inspiration. This is a must read for parents of children on the Spectrum. Robison asserts that life gets easier for Aspergians as the...more
Having an aspergers son, I found it very helpful in pointing out lots of things too small and detaled to go into here, but it gave me a further insight into how aspie kids view the world and its social rules. The author, Being an undiagnosed aspie until he grew up, realised he was different and learned to copy and follow and cope. More than that he listened to the things that attracted him and made a career for himself. Descriptive, and matter of fact, it's well written and takes you inside the...more
Ann LaBar
This is a very readable. The personal stories are at times very funny which makes what could be an uncomfortable subject to some approachable. The advice and insights into Aspberger Syndrome are extremely helpful. I have given a copy to my Aspberger daughter and very likely Aspberger husband to read. I think this book arrived at the right time for my teenaged daughter who is having a horrific time making friends. The message that life for someone with Aspbergers only gets better and better with...more
So, this was by an aspergian. Let me tell you, reading through it, half the stuff, like how to deal with other people, he could have learned from reading Dale Carnegie. I'm glad to hear that having a diagnosis for his behavioral differences made him feel better about himself, but it seems that he lived his life to the fullest without the diagnosis, and having found out earlier might have changed the way he lived his life, hence he would not have made the strides that he did. I also felt that he...more
Eh. I wasn't impressed by either the advice given or the writer's description of his life with autism spectrum disorder. Granted, he grew up in the 1970s, but his problems with girls seemed to be based in objectifying girls rather than Aspbergers (seriously, why do guys, no matter how geeky, neuro-atypical, awkward or socially inept, only want to approach the PRETTY girls? Why do they all feel they deserve cheerleaders and never look for the girls who are themselves geeky or awkward? It's really...more
Great book! I just finished it, despite not having read his first one, Look Me in the Eye. I plan on reading that one soon.
I'm a fifteen-year-old with AS, and I really took a lot from this book. Several things he described pertained to my symptoms of AS perfectly, such as the dislike of certain sounds when other people made them, but being fine when he made them. This is me exactly. I found it very insightful, and it gave me immense hope for my future and my occupation after having problems with...more
This book provided what I was looking for in Look Me in the Eye by the same author. The stories coupled with insights into Asperger's Syndrome were invaluable to my understanding. Although I did not get what I expected from his memoir, it was good that I read it first so that I had background coming into this book. I'm sure my experience would have been different otherwise, but I can't say how much.

There were a few times I tuned out a little while he talked about technical aspects of his special...more
Rachel Lein
I was pretty much done with Robison after reading "Look Me in the Eye". He writes well, but there are things about him that rub me the wrong way. However, my mother-in-law dropped this book off with me and insisted I read it, so I did.

I don't see how this book is all that helpful to anyone with Asperger's or autism or the people in their lives. Robison throws some "advice" in once in a while, but most of what this book is is more of him talking about the things he's done in his life. I don't be...more
Erin Duffy
To be fair, I read this right after "Look Me in the Eyes" which is one of the best biographies I have ever read. It was so charming and fresh. So when I read this book, which is very good, but more straightforward and less entertaining, I rated it lower than it probably deserves. I liked the advice at the end of the book the most. I am changing my stars to 4.
I really liked his first book, Look Me in the Eye, but this one was just okay. I think it would be great for someone that is autistic or has Asperger's, or has a child with it. It is mostly about his experiences with it and sort of a handbook on how to handle it.
I have a lot in common with this guy, but that makes sense considering certain diagnoses. Reading this is like talking to a friend, lots of, "ha! yeah, me too". Plus he is funny.
Clear basic guide to the author's life with Aspergers.
I really enjoyed this book. There were laugh-out-loud funny moments for me (see the chapter on "Lobster Claws"). There were also a lot of "ah HA" moments; I recognized certain aspects of my own so-called "different" mannerisms.

I don't know if I have Asperger's, but it's something I've considered. Some of my mannerisms are nowhere near as extreme as the ones he described. The parts about extreme focus on narrow topics and straightforward, innocent self-absorption rang a bell with me. He's been ac...more
John Elder Robison didn’t learn why he was different until he was 40 years old when he was diagnosed with Asperger’s. By then, he was already a successful businessman with a family and a history of mechanical wizardry including designing exploding guitars for the band, KISS. I really enjoyed Look Me In The Eye - his memoir about growing up with Asperger's but not knowing that he had it. Be Different is a bit more practical. Robison gives advice for anyone who is different, e.g. dealing with bull...more
I started reading this book to gain a deeper understanding of Asperger's for reasons both personal and professional. As an educator, I especially appreciate the author's efforts to explain his shortcomings in school and his helpful appendix for teachers and parents. He used the unique tactic of placing the medical definition of Asperger's at the end of the book to highlight the fact that truly understanding someone with the condition is more about experience than medical jargon. Although it migh...more
Laura Cushing
My library only had this available on audiobook, but I am counting it as a book I read anyhow because listening to and reading a book are close enough. This book by John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye, is a practical guide for those who are living with aspergers either in themselves or in someone they love. It would also be good for teachers. He gives tips on how to compensate for some of the troubles we have with things, and how to make your strengths really count. He gives advice...more
Gina Denny
This is less gripping than Robison's memoir, but it is far more useful in a lot of ways. This gives practical advice for people who struggle with Asperger's or other high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. There are very nearly step-by-step instructions on how to overcome common autism-related issues. It's clear, concise, and highly instructive.

The downside is that it's not nearly as interesting as another format might be. Robison tells a few anecdotes, but they are limited in scope, only t...more
Robison's memoir, Look Me in the Eye, shared the ups and downs of his unusual life. Be Different is more of a guidebook: this is how I, an Asperigian, learned to navigate and succeed in the world, and you can, too. It contains practical advice along with stories of how he learned it.

He begins by dividing people into three groups: Aspergians, Proto-Aspergians (those with "plenty of aspie quirks but not too many disabilities"), and everyone else, the neurotypical, whom he dubs nypical. Be Differen...more
A fascinating story with practical advice for people on the autism spectrum - Aspergers, specifically. John Robinson shares stories and insights from his growing up years, showing us what it's like to grow up a bit quirky, eccentric, socially-challenged, yet absolutely brilliant. He shares his relational struggles, sensory overload, and inability to "read" faces. He wasn't diagnosed until age forty. His story shows us that every person, Aspergian or not, "has something unique to offer the world....more
Robison is a very good writer. He writes clearly and honestly about his struggles with being different, having Aspergers, not being diagnosed until he was an adult and what that meant to him, and the coping techniques that he's used over the years. He has developed a pretty clear understanding of what he can and can not do and freely admits when he doesn't know for sure when a quirk or difficulty si due to his autism and when it's just "normal". He also speculates on what is normal and why is it...more
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Jonathan Karmel
I liked Look Me in the Eye better, but I enjoyed reading this too. I agree with the central premise of the book. Understand yourself, understand how your behavior affects others and apply the generally accepted rules of moral, ethical and polite behavior. But then go ahead and be different. Celebrate eccentricity; don't appologize for it. I like and agree with the concept of the "proto-aspergian" - a person with Asperger's traits who nevertheless would probably not be diagnosed with Asperger's....more
Three pages of notes copied, a pack of stickies to mark longer quotes...did I like this book?? OH YEAH! I already have the first line of my fan letter composed: "Mr Robison, we didn't know it at the time, but we were both at Lloyd Noble Arena in 1979 for the KISS Dynasty tour."

Robison did NOT rehash his memoir in this truly is new information...he tells us how his Aspergers is a gift, how it's given him singular opportunities at the same time it challenged him.

I appreciated his posit...more
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I was born in rural Georgia, where my dad worked as a country preacher. I was kind of a misfit growing up. In fact, the bigger I got, the more misfit I became. At age 8, I got a little brother, and he was a misfit too. I dropped out of school in 10th grade, and never looked back. My brother dropped out a few years later, following in my footsteps.

I've had a number of careers . . . I designed sound...more
More about John Elder Robison...
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults

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“It does not matter what sixty-six percent of people do in any particular situation. All that matters is what you do.” 10 likes
“Simply making myself aware of others has remarkably improved my social life. People accept me much faster now that I ignore them less.” 7 likes
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