When we talk to people, we tend to look them in the eye unless we are feeling guilty about something. One of the biggest myths is that if someone doesn't look you in the eye, they are lying.
As all my regular readers will know, my grandson, Brandon, has Asperger's Syndrome. People with Asperger's have trouble with social situations and they seldom look people in the eye. It is very difficult for them to look directly into someone else's eyes. For years, we told Brandon, "Look me in the eye," or "Look at me when I'm talking to you." Now, after years of training, he often does look us in the eye when he's talking to us.
My neighbor, Marianne, the same neighbor who fell and had to have surgery (she's doing great by the way) gave me the book, "Look Me in the Eye my life with Asperger's," by John Elder Robinson. This man was 40 years old when he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. All of his life he had trouble in social situations. He called his mother "Slave," his father "Stupid" and his younger brother "Cubby." Why did he do this? He had trouble associating with people who he had not named himself and he couldn't feel close to them until he had given them a name. When his little brother grew older, he changed his name to "Varmint." This was his way of identifying the people he was close to.
Brandon often calls Jordan, "Manuel." Don't ask. I have no idea why. His pet name for his mother is her maiden surname and his father... well, it depends on the situation but he has a couple of names he calls Dad as well.
After reading, "Look me in the Eye," I asked Brandon if he calls everyone a pet name because that makes him feel closer to him. He just said, "I don't know."
When I read what the author had to say in this book, I saw the light about a few things that Brandon does. This man struggled his entire life to age 40, thinking he was a misfit, weird and eccentric, yet he was a genius in some areas. Have you ever seen KISS' smoking guitars or the ones that the flames shoot out of. Well, John Elder Robinson was the one who created the pyrotechnics for KISS' guitars. He was also good at motor mechanics and a host of other things. This man is truly talented and today his book is a New York Times Bestseller.
If you want a real look into Asperger's Syndrome or if you are an Aspie that has trouble understanding some of the things you do or the way you feel at times, please read this marvelous book. It's the inside scoop on living with Asperger's.
From the back cover:
Ever since he was young, John Robinson longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits - an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them) - had earned him the label "social deviant." It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself - and the world. A born storyteller, Robinson has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about his life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It's a strange, shy indelible account - sometimes alien, yet always human.
John Elder Robinson will let you get into the mind of those who live with Asperger's Syndrome. He allows you to see what he's seen and walk a mile in his shoes. This is a must for every parent, grandparent, teacher or anyone else who is close to a person that has Asperger's. As you turn the last page, you will more understand these people who are sometimes unfairly labeled. Be sure to pick up a copy or inquire at your local library. Everyone should read this book in order to understand those who live with this disorder. Those adults who have been diagnosed with Asperger's really should read, "Look Me in the Eye." It will give a much different outlook on many of the things that are obstacles in your life. This one is being passed on to Brandon so he and his parents can read it.
"Look Me in the Eye," is also available as an Ebook and on audio from Random House Publishers. If you are sensitive to foul language, be sure to buy the version that is shown here. The unabridged version is one that I avoided only for the fact of the foul language.
Robinson's brother is Augusten Burroughs, author of "Running with Scissors." This is another must-read. It has also been made into a movie.