John Elder Robison is coming to Adelaide next month. He has autism, but did not know this until later in life. He is now an author, advocate, speaker and educator. In his books he talks about his childhood, adventures as a sound engineer for the band Kiss and about his son, Cubby, who is also on the autism spectrum.
I’m currently reading his latest book, ‘Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening’. This is what he is going to talk about when he visits for part of the Adelaide Festival Writers’ Week.
I was extremely fortunate to hear John Elder Robison speak at the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Adelaide during August 2013. This was a real highlight of the conference for me. This is mainly because I was witness to a very special moment. John Elder Robison is someone who is essentially a self-diagnosed person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He was reading a well known book by Tony Attwood, Australia’s leading expert on Asperger’s Syndrome. It was a pivotal moment in Mr Robison’s life, because it explained so many aspects of his life.
At the conference it was the first time that John Elder Robison was in the same room as Tony Attwood. It was a privilege to witness such a moment. It was quite simply one of those rare moments in life where you were humbled to be in the same room.
I am looking forward to hearing John Elder Robison talk about how one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, invited him to talk part in a study. The study involved Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which is a new experimental brain therapy. The purpose is to understand and then address the issues at the heart of Asperger’s Syndrome.
John Elder Robison wrote about how he is often asked by adults if they should be tested to see if they have Asperger Syndrome. In his book ‘Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian’ he writes how someone asked him “I was wondering if getting tested would serve any purpose.” He wrote:
It all comes down to one thing: Knowledge is power. Knowledge may also be scary, but it is absolutely empowering. Without it, there is just fumbling and guessing.
John Elder Robison is also an entrepreneur. He has established his own automotive business, JE Robison Service, that specialises in the servicing of Land Rovers and other high end cars. He employs many staff and also runs apprenticeships where people with ASD can learn a trade as a mechanic. This gives them skills and qualifications that provides a pathway to employment. Because John Elder Robison has specialised with certain makes of cars. His business is one of the top ranked Bosch Car Service facilities in the United States.
For more information on John Elder Robison and his books, visit his website: