Misfit, truant, delinquent. John Robison was never a model child, and he wasn't a model dad either. Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at the age of 40, he approached fatherhood as a series of logic puzzles and practical jokes. When his son, Cubby, asked, "Where did I come from?" John said he'd bought him at the Kid Store and that the salesman had cheated him by promising Cubby would "do all chores." He read electrical engineering manuals to Cubby at bedtime. He told Cubby that wizards turned children into stone when they misbehaved.
Still, John got the basics right. He made sure Cubby never drank diesel fuel at the automobile repair shop he owns. And he gave him a life of adventure: By the time Cubby was ten, he'd steered a Coast Guard cutter, driven a freight locomotive, and run an antique Rolls Royce into a fence.
The one thing John couldn't figure out was what to do when school authorities decided that Cubby was dumb and stubborn - the very same thing he had been told as a child. Did Cubby have Asperger's too? The answer was unclear.
John Elder Robison lectures widely on autism and neurological differences, and is a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services. Robison also serves on committees and review boards for the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and Autism Speaks.
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