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. One thing was clear, though: By the time he turned 17, Cubby had become a brilliant chemist - smart enough to make military-grade explosives and bring state and federal agents calling. Afterward, with Cubby facing up to 60 years in prison, both father and son were forced to take stock of their lives, finally coming to terms with being "on the spectrum" as both a challenge and a unique gift.
By turns tender, suspenseful, and hilarious, this is more than just the story of raising Cubby. It's the story of a father and son who grow up together. John Elder Robison is the author of two previous books, the New York Times bestseller "Look Me in the Eye," and "Be Different." He 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. A machinery enthusiast and avid photographer, John lives in Amherst, Mass. with his family, animals, and machines.
For more information on this and other events, call 802-362-2200 or 1-800-437-3700, or visit the Northshire Bookstore website at www.northshire.com.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.