We’re featuring “Slice of Life” conversations with Autistics of all ages — kids through adults — throughout April’s Autism Acceptance Month
Our goal is to help TPGA readers understand that autistic people are people who have interesting, complicated lives and who are as diverse and varied as any other population united by a label.
are the people in each other’s neighborhoods, and the more we know
about each other — the more visible autistic people and children are —
the more common autism acceptance will be. That is our hope.
Today we’re talking with John Elder Robison, author of the books Look Me in the Eye and Be Different, as well as the mastermind behind Ace Frehley’s light up guitar (and so hero to anyone who ever owned a KISS lunchbox).
What is your name?
John Elder Robison
Do you have a website?
www.johnrobison.com and www.robisonservice.com.
What would you like a one-sentence description of yourself to say?
A free range geek, Aspergian, and machine aficionado.
Do you have any autistic superpowers? What are they?
I won the spaghetti eating contest in my fifth grade. Six full plates without throwing up.
I imagined Gorko and his world of flying lizards for my Aspergian son’s nighttime entertainment.
What are some situations that make you happy, or satisfied?
Situations do not generally make me happy. Happiness — such as I feel — comes from within me. That is one of my pieces of autistic disability. Being told I’ve done a good job is satisfying, and that’s got to be good enough I guess.
What are some situations that make you sad, or anxious?
Many things make me anxious. Too many to list, really. I get sad when I feel my difference, or my core aloneness.
Are there specific topics you find particularly compelling?
What are your preferred ways to be social?
Talking to people in person.
What traits do you prize in a friend, or companion?
Tolerance of me, loyalty, consistency, trustworthiness.
Are there parts of your life you wish were easier?
I wish I could feel like an insider, rather than an outsider, most of the time. Logically, I know many people like me. Yet I still feel alone. I wish I could live without anxiety, naturally, without being subdued by medication which I won’t do.
What’s the next big goal you have for yourself?
Build up my car business and write my fourth book about the TMS research at Harvard/Beth Israel.
What does bliss feel like to you?
I don’t know.