John Elder Robison interview on the Today Show | ow
5:38PM Aug 26, 2021
Well, it's a disorder that affects at least two out of every 10,000 children in the US and for many it can present a lifetime of challenges. Now, one man who suffered without answers for four decades is helping others learn more about it and themselves. For as long as he could remember john Robeson didn't fit in, he had no friends. He played alone, and was written off as a social misfit.
I knew that other kids didn't like me. And I knew that I had trouble with my teachers. And I knew that my teachers told me I was no good, or I was defective. But I didn't know why.
And what people couldn't figure out about john was his obsession with routine, sometimes inappropriate facial expressions, and apparent lack of empathy. all part of a long list of symptoms john and his family recognized but didn't know how to deal with
when I didn't look them in the eye. They would tell me that there was something wrong with me and I was a sociopath, a label
hard for any high school student to overcome. So he dropped out of school and stumbled on his calling by finding a use for his savant like ability to repair enhanced and electrified just about anything. I believe that there were those around you who believed you loved or liked machines within people. Is that true?
I didn't like machines more than people. But you know, 20 or 30 years ago, I didn't understand people very well and machines were never tricky. They didn't lie to me they they weren't DVS enter kiss
the hard rock group with a signature style of over the top makeup and flashy pyrotechnics.
I love music and I love electronics. And I realized that even though I was clumsy, and I couldn't play an instrument, I could make them sound better. And musicians you know, embrace that. And soon I went from making them sound better to make a blow up and shoot rockets and I was on the road with kiss going.
When life on the road with kiss lost its luster his passion turned to cars. He was fearless. When it came to working on expensive models, no one else would touch earning him a reputation grateful customers and a chance encounter that would change his life forever.
One day, this therapist came in and started talking to me and we became friends. And several years later, he told me about the Asperger's. So it was just a extraordinary piece of luck because it was truly a life changing thing.
At the age of 40, john was officially diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. How did it feel when someone gave a name to something that you had been struggling with all your life?
You know, the knowledge that these ways of being are actually normal for me, and there are actually so many other people like me that they have a name for it. That was just the most remarkable discovery.
JOHN now turns to writing too many an unexpected turn. But if you knew his family, and perhaps you do, you'd know it makes perfect sense. JOHN is the brother of best selling author Augusten Burroughs who detailed his dysfunctional upbringing in running with scissors recently made it to a movie, the ceiling
was crushing us. So we made a skylight. I think it brings a much needed sense of humor to the kitchen. And it was a Gustin, who encouraged his big brother to write his own book.
It's so heartfelt. It's so funny. And it shows you what people with autism or Asperger's are thinking that they are unable to express. And the most amazing thing about it is they are just like us. They have the same thoughts, the same insecurities, the same doubts the same needs. They observe the same things, but you don't see that
what people did see and sometimes still do, are some of the unusual symptoms of Asperger's.
I like calling people by names, but I guess I like to make my own names up. He calls his wife Unit Two, and his son Cubby, if I was like, really nervous, like if you had arrested me and you were interviewing me, you know, I might be like, bobbing back and forth like this. And and I think that's kind of a comforting thing. But since you know, you haven't done anything like that. I don't display that right now. But I feel good about that. At least I didn't make you feel uncomfortable. So that would be an example of, of a repetitive movement. But over the years, john has learned to curtail certain oddities I've learned not to be rude and not to interrupt people. I've learned to have you know, a minimal amount of manners. You don't have to do all this stuff perfectly. You just have to make the transition from weird to eccentric and then you're okay.