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John Elder Robison

Raising Cubby

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Catalog No. 28273

The slyly funny, sweetly moving memoir of an unconventional dad's relationship with his equally offbeat son--complete with fast cars, tall tales, homemade explosives, and a whole lot of fun and trouble.

John Robison was not your typical dad. Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at the age of forty, he approached fatherhood as a series of logic puzzles and practical jokes.

Instead of a speech about the birds and the bees, he told his son, Cubby, that he'd bought him at the Kid Store, and that the salesman had cheated him by promising Cubby would "do all chores." While other parents played catch with their kids, John taught Cubby to drive the family's antique Rolls-Royce. Still, Cubby seemed to be turning out pretty well, at least until school authorities decided that he was dumb and stubborn--the very same thing John had been told as a child. Did Cubby have Asperger's too? The answer was unclear.

By the time he turned seventeen, Cubby had become a brilliant and curious chemist, smart enough to make military-grade explosives and bring federal agents calling. With Cubby facing a felony trial--and up to sixty years in prison--both father and son were forced to take stock of their lives, finally accepting that being "on the spectrum" is both a challenge and a unique gift.

"Charming and wise.... Part parenting guide, part courtroom drama, part catalog of the travails and surprising joys of life with the high-functioning form of autism called Asperger's syndrome, this memoir will offer all parents--but particularly fathers--a lot to think about. That its author was almost 40 when he learned he had Asperger's...and that he eventually learned his son had the condition as well, make their story more remarkable, but do nothing to diminish its relevance even for readers with no personal experience of autism...[Robison's] deadpan humor [is] in evidence throughout.... Touching, sympathetic, and often insightful."--The New York Times

"How does a man who lacks a sense of empathy and an ability to read nonverbal cues learn to be a father? And how does a man with Asperger's learn to recognize the same symptoms in his own child? (A key element in the book is Robison's son's own diagnosis, and Robison's reaction to his having missed seeing the signs for as long as he had.) In many ways, this is a traditional father-and-son memoir, but the added element of Asperger's gives the story a stronger emotional core: when Robison and his wife separated, for example, he realized he had been misreading a lot of what had been going on between them. It's a story of a man learning to be a parent, yes, but it's also--and perhaps more importantly--the story of a man discovering, as an adult, who he really is."--Booklist

John Elder Robison is a free range Aspergian male who grew up in the 1960s before the Asperger diagnosis came into common use. After dropping out of high school, John worked in the music business where he created sound effects and electronic devices, including the signature illuminated, smoking, and rocket-firing guitars he built for KISS. Later John worked on some of the first video games and talking toys at Milton Bradley. After a ten year career in electronics John founded Robison Service, a specialty automobile company in Springfield, Massachusetts. 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.

384 pages. 2014


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