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From self-centred loner to pleasant eccentric

Misfits, geeks, loners and people with Aspberger’s —take heart. John Elder Robison is here to help you chart your own path.

Misfits, geeks, loners and people with Aspberger’s —take heart. John Elder Robison is here to help you chart your own path.


His new book, Be Different: Adventures Of a Free-range Aspergian (Doubleday Canada) echoes his journey through a world in which he’s always been different.


Robison is a person living with Aspberger’s, a disorder along the autism spectrum, which means he has non-standard wiring in the brain. He wants to give a message of hope and concrete advice to younger people who have trouble socially.


“When you are growing up and struggling to find friends and fit in, the future can seem very dark indeed. Yet people like me tend to do better as we get older and it’s important for us to stand as inspirational role models for younger people,” he tells Metro.


Through hard work, patience and diligence, he has developed “work-arounds” for challenges that affect people like him. He studies ordinary people and learns to imitate their behaviour. He calls them nypicals, a short form of neurotypical, which is essentially any human who doesn’t live in the autism spectrum.


Robison is also the author of the bestselling memoir, Look Me In the Eye, and his brother Augusten Burroughs wrote about their dysfunctional childhood in Running With Scissors.


Robison was recently in Toronto promoting Be Different.


“Simply making myself aware of others has remarkably improved my social life,” he writes. “People accept me much faster now that I ignore them less. This process is a secret of my success, and that helped turn me from a self-centered loner into a pleasant eccentric with a number of friends.”



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