Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison

If men are from Mars, and women from Venus, then John Elder Robison is from a whole different universe from me. That's not to say I didn't like the book, because I did, or that I didn't think he loved his son and tried his best to be a good father, because he did. Some brains are wired differently, and that difference makes it hard for those individuals to fit into the world where most of us reside. So when you get an intelligent, articulate, and observant man, who has a differently wired brain, telling the story of raising a differently wired son, someone (such as myself) with mundane wiring in my brain, can only marvel at the alternate viewpoint.

The main thing that jumped out at me, aside from how much Robison loved his boy, is the vast imagination of the man. The stories he told his son were marvelous: getting Cubby from a store that sold kids, rather than that vastly unbelievable "mommy and daddy made you" or "the stork brought you"; how Santa got started, what that stone figure of a child holding a lantern at the end of someone's driveway really was. The activities he and his son did together were wonderful, too, and the solution to getting past security guards who wouldn't let him take his son to explore stockyards, energy plants, etc that they wanted to see, was brilliant. It was such a different world view than my own, and so fascinating.

My favorite (as in most heartwarming for me) of the different wiring examples builds on that enormous love element, as well. When young Jack (aka Cubby) was born, Dad became obsessed with the idea that somehow, by accident or intent, the wrong baby would go home with them. So, in the delivery room, moments after fresh baked baby had emerged, he carefully drew a temporary tattoo on the baby's foot with a sharpie, so no one could run of with his son, and foist a changeling on him.

Robison was diagnosed at age 40 with Asperger's; his son was diagnosed shortly after that. The boy's mother also turns out to be on the autistic spectrum, as do several other people who appear in the book. (And while not on the autistic scale, Robison's younger brother has written about his own life in the memoir Running With Scissors. Finding a way to work in the mainstream world is a struggle and a challenge for such folks. I know people in my own life who also fall in this spectrum, some who have managed more successfully than others, but I do know the hard work it takes.  This book not only recounts the story of getting Cubby from babyhood to young adult (with a few minor blow-ups, pun intended, along the way), but it serves to help raise the awareness of those of us with the standard brain wiring of the gifts and challenges "different" folks bring to our world.

Tags: biography-autobiography-or-memoir, blogging-for-books, made-me-laugh-out-loud-for-real, made-me-look-something-up, read, taught-me-something, wow

Thank you to Blogging for Books and to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment