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Be Different by John Elder Robison - Excerpt

Be Different by John Elder Robison - Excerpt

Ratings:

3.7

(30)
|Views: 11,630 |Likes:
“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 and rock bands but did little to endear him to authority figures and classmates, who were put off by his inclination to blurt out non sequiturs and avoid eye contact.

By the time he was diagnosed at age forty, John had already developed a myriad of coping strategies that helped him achieve a seemingly normal, even highly successful, life. In Be Different, Robison shares a new batch of endearing stories about his childhood, adolescence, and young adult years, giving the reader a rare window into the Aspergian mind.

In each story, he offers practical advice—for Aspergians and indeed for anyone who feels “different”—on how to improve the weak communication and social skills that keep so many people from taking full advantage of their often remarkable gifts. With his trademark honesty and unapologetic eccentricity, Robison addresses questions like:

• How to read others and follow their behaviors when in uncertain social situations
• Why manners matter
• How to harness your powers of concentration to master difficult skills
• How to deal with bullies
• When to make an effort to fit in, and when to embrace eccentricity
• How to identify special gifts and use them to your advantage

Every person, Aspergian or not, has something unique to offer the world, and every person has the capacity to create strong, loving bonds with their friends and family. Be Different will help readers and those they love find their path to success.

To read more about Be Different or John Elder Robison please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.
“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 and rock bands but did little to endear him to authority figures and classmates, who were put off by his inclination to blurt out non sequiturs and avoid eye contact.

By the time he was diagnosed at age forty, John had already developed a myriad of coping strategies that helped him achieve a seemingly normal, even highly successful, life. In Be Different, Robison shares a new batch of endearing stories about his childhood, adolescence, and young adult years, giving the reader a rare window into the Aspergian mind.

In each story, he offers practical advice—for Aspergians and indeed for anyone who feels “different”—on how to improve the weak communication and social skills that keep so many people from taking full advantage of their often remarkable gifts. With his trademark honesty and unapologetic eccentricity, Robison addresses questions like:

• How to read others and follow their behaviors when in uncertain social situations
• Why manners matter
• How to harness your powers of concentration to master difficult skills
• How to deal with bullies
• When to make an effort to fit in, and when to embrace eccentricity
• How to identify special gifts and use them to your advantage

Every person, Aspergian or not, has something unique to offer the world, and every person has the capacity to create strong, loving bonds with their friends and family. Be Different will help readers and those they love find their path to success.

To read more about Be Different or John Elder Robison please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.

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Published by: Crown Publishing Group on Mar 15, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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Copyright © 2011 by John Elder RobisonAll rights reserved.Published in the United States by Crown Archetype,an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. www.crownpublishing.com Crown Archetype with colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataRobison, John Elder.Be different : adventures of a free-range Aspergianwith practical advice for Aspergians, misfits,families & teachers / John Elder Robison. — 1st ed.1. Asperger’s syndrome. 2. Difference (Psychology)3. Marginality, Social. 4. Individual differences.5. Robison, John Elder. I. Title.RC553.A88R63 2011616.85'8832—dc222010053205ISBN 978-0-307-88481-7 eISBN 978-0-307-88483-1 Printed in the United States of AmericaBook design by Lauren Dong Jacket design by Whitney G. Cookman Jacket photograph: Courtesy of the author Author photograph: Augusten Burroughs10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1First Edition

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kekerlewis reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Robison wrote this in a very easy-to-read, conversational tone. It's the kind of fast read one would feel comfortable passing over to a nine-year-old son or daughter who might crack up laughing at some of the hilarious undertones and purposeful hilarity. Anyone who has frustratedly gone to a library or bookstore and quickly thumbed through many books about Asperger's in order to decide on a book to read in order to understand a friend or family member's mind...particularly the "average" nypical, will walk away bored or annoyed by all the technical DSM-V type jargon found in other books. THIS book is the perfect read for someone who does not like to read textbooks or case studies written on collegiate level, and also perfect someone who LOVES to read Dave Barry-style books, as it is written intelligently by someone who has clearly tried very hard to speak as "easily" as possible, so everyone can understand. On a personal note, I liked how he lightly brushed upon some of the Aspergian moments he's experienced, particularly that of being known as a person who feels "safe" walking in strange places alone during any weather. That is something he and I have in common, and I too have wondered what he wondered about it, if an Aspergian mind is wired to appreciate and take in the natural/biological world more so than other people's minds. My favorite chapter involved "pliers", a short tale of strategical classroom bully-breaking from the point of view of a person who grew up to realize he ought not have stooped to a bully's level in retaliating, but that in certain measures, in certain instances, one must show bullies why it is not in their best interest to start somethin'! This chapter also highlighted the conflicting compassionate/self-interested state nypicals find maddening or intriguing when confronted with the Aspergian who is often a nice person...but (especially when younger) does not follow the same conventional rules of "falling in line" with people who demand respect without earning it....
timbazzett reviewed this
Rated 2/5
BE DIFFERENT was a Christmas gift to myself, mostly because I had so enjoyed Robison's memoir, LOOK ME IN THE EYE. I wish I'd saved my money. This book comes across as repetitious and rather robotic in tone, full of what seems to be mostly common-sense advice, repeated nearly ad nauseam. Perhaps it would be useful to parents, friends or relatives of children or adults with Asperger's, but only if they'd known nothing about it to begin with. The emotionless mechanical feeling the book leaves you with was very much like the memoir Templin Grandin wrote - also not terribly interesting. I couldn't help but feel that Robison only wrote this book to capitalize on the popularity of his earlier - and far superior - book. Perhaps a bit of monetary opportunism at work. Sorry, John, but this combination advice/self-help book simply did not work for me.
bsiemens_2 reviewed this
Rated 2/5
Having been interested in the topic for a couple of years, I was looking forward to reading this book and was a little disappointed that each chapter held little new information. It didn't hold my interest and I skimmed the latter half of the book.
dark_phoenix54 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Robison has written a manual that should help anyone with Asperger’s navigate the world of neurotypicals- those who aren’t on the autism spectrum. Written as a loose autobiography, he uses his own life to illustrate the problems that those with Asperger’s can have, and tells us how he worked around those problems. His inability to read body language or read emotion on faces, his lack of understanding of social expectations, and his over sensitivity to some stimuli are all things he’s educated himself into overcoming. It took lots and lots of practice, but he’s taught himself to interact with neurotypicals. The book is written in a clear, simple way that even a very young teen – probably younger, really- can understand. Robison has a humorous style that will keep the reader engaged. The hope is that others can learn from his examples and live smoother lives, with less anxiety on the part of both themselves and their families. To do this, they’ll have to be very focused on the task, but, Robison says, it’s very, very worth the effort. The author recommends the book for anyone with Asperger’s, for anyone who is considered geeky or nerdy, and their families and teachers. I’d go further and say that it would be very helpful for anyone with a friend, family member or co-worker who seems to miss a lot of the social cues that most people get, because there are things that the neurotypical person can do to make interactions go smoother, too.
fpagan_9 reviewed this
The number of possible Asperger's-syndrome personality traits, partly attributable to less-active mirror neurons, is quite large, and different "Aspergians" exhibit many different combinations of them. Interested "nypicals" (neurotypicals) can find one example in the Sheldon Cooper character in "The Big Bang Theory" and another in John Robison, who relates many of his life experiences in this easily readable book. They (the nypicals) need to appreciate that neither of these two kinds of high-functioning ape -- the ~1% who are Aspergian and the vast sea of nypicals -- can ever really understand the world-model and instincts of the other. Trouble is, except for those with Aspergian children, few nypicals will be motivated to read the book.
jo2son reviewed this
Rated 4/5
An easy read about what it is like to live with Aspergers'. I would recommend this for Aspergians (as he calls them), families and teachers to add to their understanding of what it is like to live with Asperger's as well as what is possible.
citizenjoyce reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This book offers practical advice on socialization and finding a career. I love this passage, which is the essence of the book: That's the nature of Asperger's -- it produces what psychologists call "developmental delays" We're slow to pick up some social skills, and we'll never be perfect at using them, but most of us can learn enough to get by. While all of us grow and develop our entire lives, the pace of development slows down for most people in the late teen years. That's when those of us with Asperger's get our chance to catch up. Catching up may be a lot of work, but with sufficient focus and resolve it can be done. So a kid whose social sills were way behind his peers in seventh grade may end up being just a little eccentric in college, and downright popular in middle age.Robison talks about the fact that areas of special interest are a part of the Asperger's condition and that while a child's talking about dinosaurs for hours on end can drive a parent up the wall, that same interest in an adult leads to competence and that competence is the way to success and friendship. He gives good advice on the necessity for manners and personal hygiene and mentions something I don't think I've read before. Robison says that, even as successful as he is, it's still very difficult to impossible for him to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. So he says he is a chosen person. People, women, notice his interests and competence and approach him to initiate conversation, and he can take the relationship from there. He's a chosen person, not a chooser. That's a good way to look at a very effective life strategy.This is a very helpful, encouraging, and simply written book that I would recommend to any adolescent with Asperger's or anyone who cares about them.
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