John Elder Robison


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

BE WHO YOU ARE. John Elder Robison attends an event for one of his books. Robison’s four novels are titled “Switched On,” “Raising Cubby,” “Be Different,” and “Look Me in the Eye.” Freshman English students may opt to read “Look Me in the Eye” for the memoir unit of their course. Published in 2007, the sometimes humorous, often meditative, and undeniably memorable memoir continues to be a favorite among SHS freshmen.

Autism activist, author, and esteemed car mechanic John Elder Robison was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome by a therapist friend when he was 40 years old.

Asperger’s is a form of autism that affects the Aspergian’s capacity for effective socialization and communication. Many Aspergian individuals have extreme focus; some, including Robison, have exceptionally high-functioning intellects.

As detailed in his “New York Times” bestselling memoir, “Look Me in the Eye,” Robison was always seen as a problem child, but his social shortcomings were then dismissed as laziness or mischief and disobedience.

In conjunction with a complex family life, Robison’s unique traits gave him insight on electronics, engineering, and mechanics. This intelligence sent him on quite the rollercoaster after he dropped out of high school in tenth grade.

Robison has designed special effect guitars for rock band KISS, succeeded in the corporate world of toys, games, and electronics, and started a nationally renowned auto repair business specializing in Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles.

After “Look Me in the Eye,” Robison published three more novels on his life with Asperger’s syndrome. He has also become an activist, advocate, and resource alongside those working to help autistic people succeed in a modern society.

As he continues to be active in this fight, Robison hopes to people with Asperger’s with the resources he never had.

Namely, Robison aims to help the non-Aspergian world understand how to accommodate those with the syndrome and to support the development of research-based therapies and services for autistic people.