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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

John Elder Robison and I

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to and briefly meeting John Elder Robison. Author of Look Me In The Eye and Be Different. John was diagnosed with Aspergers at forty. A client at his luxury car workshop was a therapist. One day around 14 years ago he arrived at Johns business with a book written by Tony Attwood. As John tells it, the customer says to him, 'John there's this new thing called Aspergers and you could be the poster boy for it". John commenced reading and was struck by the list of Asperger characteristics. It was a genuinely life changing realisation for him.  His entire existence prior, which had been filled with struggles and self doubt,  now made some sense.

You cannot listen to his story without considering the importance of both sharing the diagnosis with our kids as soon as we think they are ready, but also to frame it in ways that enhances our loved ones understanding of their ASD rather than as a deficit needing to be eradicated, because at least for now it can't be. He spoke of the importance of parents exposing kids to as many opportunities for learning as possible. His thinking is that you never know what interest a child may have until you give them the opportunity to find it. That quirky interest/obsession may give the child an avenue into future employment.

I was so pleased to have the opportunity to hear him speak. It was obvious he still hasn't come to terms with how genuinely interested people are in hearing his story. It was a full house last night, and he clearly had not anticipated that. Walking out into the auditorium, and glancing up towards the crowd you could see his astonishment that so many had come. In writing his books he reached out to offer a story of hope to others, never really expecting to be seen as anything other "than a freakshow".  Instead he connected, to his amazement, with thousands of people world wide. And he's never looked back. 

7 comments:

  1. How wonderful that you were able to meet him and hear him speak.

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  2. Yep mamafog. I was very fortunate.

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  3. I am thrilled he was booked out, yet disappointed I couldn't get tickets :) Look forward to hearing all about it.

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  4. You might regret getting me started Caroline :)

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  5. That's amazing! I'm glad you were able to meet him.

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  6. Wow, that sounds like such an amazing experience. I love the photo!!

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  7. Thanks MM and Lizbeth. Think I'll have to write another post about it so I can use the photo again :)

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