Many people with Asperger Syndrome (AS) have an extraordinary ability to remember both factual information and past events. At a recent support group, ten adults with AS of all ages – myself among them – shared detailed experiences reaching back to our early childhoods, even our infancies. Now, on the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s quite remarkable. Neurotypicals envy this keen ability to recollect.
Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human.
Erin Lefevre has been photographing her brother for years to better understand his experiences as a teenager with autism. In the ensuing project, “Liam’s World,” they collaborate as he captions her photos, describing what he felt at the time.