Friday, April 27, 2007

When John Elder Robison knocks....
I open the door and say, "Welcome."
I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but this one says so much. And is related to two topics near and dear to my heart. Autism (and its cousin Asperger's Syndrome) and publishing.
The author of this book, due out in September, popped into my blog this week. That would be John Elder Robison.
I'm tickled pink that he did for two reasons. 1) He is a person with Asperger's syndrome (sort of the top of the autism food chain.) I want to know more people on the spectrum who can talk t0 me and help me explain what my girls might be feeling and thinking and needing. 2) John's book took the publishing world by storm recently.
So, welcome John. I look forward to learning as much as I can about your perspective. But please, can you explain the ear wiggle thing to me? :)
Here's a link to John's site.


mcewen said...

The ear wiggle thing? You mean that you can't wiggle your ears? Poor you. I nip along and take a look.

kimtheblogowner said...

No, no I can not wiggle my ears! Can you???? I can curl my tongue though and that is FAR more useful.

John Elder Robison said...

I am touched that you chose to welcome my book to your site. I hope it proves useful or at least entertaining to you, when you're able to read it.

Being a kid owner myself, I can at least assure you that you can give my book to your kids too - provided they are big enough to read it - there's no graphic sex or gratuitous violence inside.

And I am sorry to report that I have not been able to wiggle my ears since getting my nose cut off in a motorcycle accident many years ago.

I tried to teach my son to do it, but it was only partly successful. I wanted to have the barber point his ears like Mister Spock, too, but he resisted vigorously.

I don't know how much I can tell you about how your own kids may think and feel. It depends on how like me they are. And that's very, very hard to know.

When a kid sits on the ground, staring into space, and ignores you . . . what is really going on? Is he deep in thought, pondering relativity? Is he imagining a new sound effect and seeing the waveforms of the music, like me? Is he content, marvelling at the wonder of a leaf? Or is nothing at all going on, his mind in neutral?

Is he brilliant, or virtually devoid of intelligence?

It is very hard to figure out the answer to that question. Can a kid from one group move into another? I don't know.

People like me are called gifted if they succeed in life. If they turn inward, they are called autistic. When I was little, people like me were "idiot savants". Now the term is "autistic savant."

There are also kids that I read about who act autistic after being exposed to chemicals or diseases. Soemhow, I don't think those kids are in my group, even though we may act the same in our autistic phases as children.

It can be very hard to separate "brain damage" form "brain different." It can take many years, till the kid is a grownup, and even then - do you really know?

What if a kid like me - with a love and aptitude for technology and machines - what if I'd grown up in rural India, where the hottest technology was the wooden axle and wheel on my dad's cart?

Would you just conclude I was brain damaged? How would you ever know the potential without the key to unlock it? You wouldn't even know a key existed. . .

That's why it's such a hard question.

I think we are going to find that many conditions manifest themselves in a similar manner and we call them all "autistic spectrum."

I'll do my best to answer your kid questions, whether in person or in my second book. But I don't know if I have the answers you seek. I wish I could say, "Sure, I have all the answers! Fifty bucks!" But I don't even know the answers for myself, all the time.

Kim Stagliano said...

John, you just answered a LOT of my questions. And I'd have paid you $100! LOL! You can count on my support for your book. I look forward to reading it. I emailed your brother telling him how pleased I am to have met you and how I marvel that the writing and autism world could connect me (a teensy newcomer) with him (a huge success) courtesy of YOU. Not sure he'll see the email or open it - but I wanted him to know how I felt.

Do come back.


M. G. Tarquini said...

My son connected with Mark Haddon's Curious Incident. Would you recommend your book for different thinking 10 year old?

Holly Kennedy said...

Kim, I absolutely LOVE this cover. It makes me want to run out and buy the book. Thanks for the link to John's site. I plan to visit. :)

kimsbookisnotpg said...

MG - my book? Nope. My book is fiction - think Stephanie Plum with a telepathic autistic niece only she can hear being chased by a nasty drug dealer who thinks she stole his stash.

Kim Stagliano said...

MG and Holly - isn't it an interesting circle with Pat's book and now John's book as fiction and non fiction stories about people, acceptance and what it means to succeed? I'm kind of blown away to be touched by both people.

John Elder Robison said...

I so wish my book was in print, right now, and all the parents like you could read it. There's such a need for information if autism or Asperger's touches your own family.

I thought very, vary hard about the ideas expressed in the book, and I leanred a great deal about myself in the process of writing it.

Where do you stand with your own book now?

Kim Stagliano said...

My book is with a terrific agent in NY and is being read by four editors currently. My book is fiction, John - I created a family with two autistic children. My agent calls it humorous mom-lit.

So many people told me I should write about autism. BUT - I live it so fully with my three girls I just couldn't write non-fiction (I commend you!) So I created a funny, crazy family with two autistic kids one of whom is telepathic, but who only "talks" with her nutty aunt (pronounced awnt, yes, fellow Massachusetts born friend?)

How many kids do you "Own" (I love that) and do they share Aspergian traits? Neither my husband nor I are Apsergian in the least - we are chatty sales people. I've often joked that Mark and I "sucked up all the words in the house" leaving few left over for our kids.

Don't worry - the word will spread fast on your book. I'll help with that! Not that you need me - you're already a sensation, John.

John Elder Robison said...

I just have the one kid. I would have taken two, but his mom turned, and I ended up getting divorced.

The kid, who will be known to the world as Cubby, or just plain Kid, is not really Aspergian. He actually has friends. But he's into explosives and computer programming, some of the things I was interested in.

I was not born in Massachusetts. I was born in Georgia, and my brother was born eight years later in Pennsylvania. We came here in the 1960s when my father got a job teaching at UMass.

"Humorous mom lit" sounds promising. They tell me the "average reader" is a mom, 42, with 2 kids and a burgundy minivan.

Hopefully you'll hear soon. My brother waited months, I know, but luckily I got all my responses much faster.

Where did you meet my brother? And what do you sell? Whatever it is, my brother loves to BUY. I'm more of a primitive.

ORION said...

I just ordered John's book on Amazon!
The cover is amazing.
What you say John is what I have seen in my teaching and I find it so interesting to hear your perspective.
This blogging really connects a lot of writers in a wonderful way.

Holly Kennedy said...

Kim -- I so wish I could've met you in NY with Pat for breakfast. She told me all about it. I plan to be in NY in late June and if you were able to take the train in, I'd buy lunch! :)

I'm 6 months away from finishing my 4th novel, titled Penguin Hill, and would give ANYTHING to have you read it and offer your input when it's done.

Pat's already offered to read it and because the main character is cognitively challenged (something I have no background with) I worry about him sounding AND behaving authentically, although, I must admit, I have no idea where his voice came from, but he's the most endearing soul...

John -- "They tell me the "average reader" is a mom, 42, with 2 kids and a burgundy minivan". Hey, I fit that demographic in many ways myself!! I'm 43, with 2 kids, but I drive an SUV. No burgundy minivan for this author!

Kim Stagliano said...

Holly, I will be happy to hop the train to NY and would enjoy lunch! My own food? On my own plate? No saliva residue from a small, medium or large child? Sign me up. I don't care if we eat at a Falafel cart on 5th. You'll pardon me if I say "Holly, use your fork" at least once, right? I'd love to read your work. Pat has me email and address and phone. I'll bet your gut steered you right on your character.

Holly Kennedy said...

Kim -- That's wonderful!
We'll connect offline. I'll get your email from Pat. I'm there June 20-21-22, but have most of the 21st booked up with my agent in the a.m. + editor in the afternoon. We'll figure it out :)
And, again, thanks so much!

Manic Mom said...

Totally going to get that book!!! And the cover is G R E A T!

Kim Stagliano said...

Manic, it's so NICE to see a face on a book again, even if it's icky scrunchy I won't open my eyes or eat my peas face! I think the cover will make passersby pick up the book for certain.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Hi Kim. No, I meant to ask John if his book would be good for a differently thinking 10 year old. I've put it on order also.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Kim? Would you email me off my profile? I can't find an address for you.

Kim Stagliano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drama Mama said...

OMG! I have been a fan of Mr. Robison since I DEVOURED all of Augusten Burrough's memoirs. He speaks of his brother with so much love and respect.
Can.Not.Wait. Hopping over to Amazon to pre-order today. LOVE that cover!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow Kim!

Thanks for the hot tip.

P.S. I don't "own" my "Ass Burgers" kid. More like she owns the rest of us!

Fivekids55 said...


Thanks for that link. I just ordered John's book, what an amazing cover.
And I ordered Lottery, which I have waited for.


P. S. I'm looking forward to having a cup of coffee with you.

Kim Stagliano said...

Cahty, hi! The town Starbucks closed today for a month of remodeling. DOH! We'll come up with plan B, yes? :)

Fivekids55 said...


Come to my house. I think we're separated by about three streets!

I heard the Japanese place is also shutting down. The owner stole natural gas, and switched the gauges to pay seventy five percent less.

I have to tell you my neighborhood makes Desperate Housewives look like Leave it to Beaver.
(I'll fill you in.)


Crabby McSlacker said...

Hi Kim,
Glad to find my way over here! This looks like a fascinating blog, and I'm eager to read more about you and your girls and your fiction. I'll definitely have to look for John's book too, which looks great.

Unfortunately, I can't wiggle my ears at all but it has always seemed like a very cool thing to be able todo.

welcomefromkimtheblogowner said...

Crabby, I admit it, I covet your name. Totally. Welcome. Sometimes I talk about writing. Sometimes other people's writing. Sometimes autism. Sometimes random info about "personal massagers" that appear in grandma catalogs. I can't wiggle my ears worth a fig either.

Trish Ryan said...

How cool...and you're right, that's a fabulous cover! Can't wait to check it out!

Jenny Rough said...

I can wiggle my ears.

The book looks great. Can't wait to read it.

kyra said...

yay! i'm so glad i found this site!

i've pre-ordered john robison's fantastic looking book (I LOVE THE COVER). sadly, i cannot wiggle my ears either. but i can read.

i'm sending out good thoughts for your novel, kim. i can't wait to read that, too!

Chumplet said...

This sounds like a nice little party. May I join in? John has been kind enough to visit my blog, and he mentioned you, Kim. So I decided to visit.

I don't have a child with autism, but my brother-in-law does. They had a great government program to receive support, but it cuts them off at age seven. It's a shame, because little Travis was coming along so well. His younger brother Jay benefited from the program by osmosis. Jay's communications skills are far beyond other kids his age.

Presently, my sister-in-law is campaigning for more funding for the treatment of autism here in Ontario.

Good luck with your book, Kim. I'm sure you'll let us all know its status over on AW as soon as you hear something.

I guess now I know what I'll spend my first royalty cheque on: Lottery, Look Me In The Eye, and a nice piece of Mom-Lit. I just hope I have enough money left over for lunch.

verification: gaswrot. Ew. That's what happens AFTER lunch.

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of reading J.E Robison's book "Look Me In the Eye" and saw many parallels to my own life.

I am a 42 year old female and I also was recently Dx with Asperger's Syndrome.

I am also extremely intelligent as I went all the way through medical school. I had an extremely hard time keeping any friends. My saving grace and the difference between John and I is his parents were mean and my family is incredibly nice and supportive and loving.

My family recognized there was something different about me that I was only interested in medicine from a very young age, but they built me a lab and got me dead animals to disect and fostered my intellect. They could not stand to look at it, so they would knock on the wall when it was time for dinner and I would cover the animal up and put it in a little refrigerator in my lab and go eat dinner.