Jeremy's Reviews > Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison
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Jan 27, 2011

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bookshelves: autism
Read from January 08 to 27, 2011

I should not have read the foreword to this book, which was written by Augusten Burroughs. I hated the movie Running with Scissors, though I have to confess I haven’t read the book. Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but I have an automatic negative reaction to Augusten Burroughs based on that movie (and a quick look at the book reviews on Goodreads indicates I’m probably not the only one). So, this book is by Burrough’s older brother (their last names are different because Augusten changed his whole name) and was still very enjoyable to me, despite the association.

A significant portion of the book is about the author’s life in general and not about his Asperger’s specifically. I think there’s a good balance, though, for the casual reader as well as those interested in learning more about autism.

For me the take-home message was that those with autism feel the same emotions we feel, even if they express them differently, or don’t express them at all. The author put this much more eloquently than I just did (see the quotes below).


My conversational difficulties highlight a problem Aspergians face every day. A person with an obvious disability – for example, someone in a wheelchair – is treated compassionately because his handicap is obvious. No one turns to a guy in a wheelchair and says, “Quick! Let’s run across the street!” And when he can’t run across the street, no one says, “What’s his problem?” They offer to help him across the street. With me, though, there is no external sign that I am conversationally handicapped. So folks hear some conversational misstep and say, “What an arrogant jerk!” I look forward to the day when my handicap will afford me the same respect accorded to a guy in a wheelchair.

Many descriptions of autism and Asperger’s describe people like me as “not wanting contact with others” or “preferring to play alone.” I can’t speak for other kids, but I’d like to be very clear about my own feelings: I did not ever want to be alone.

What I do know is that all of us have far more in common than we realize… I may look and act pretty strange at times, but deep down I just want to be loved and understood for who and what I am. I want to be accepted as part of society, not an outcast or an outsider. I don’t want to be a genius or a freak or something on display. I wish for empathy and compassion from those around me, and I appreciate sincerity, clarity, and logicality in other people. I believe most people – autistic or not – share this wish.
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Curt Jordan I wanted to add that I loved running with scissors but also thought the movie was horrible.

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