The morning of the BEA

When I was little, I watched the world around me. Initially, everything was exciting. But when I tried to join in; to be a part of the exciting stuff – it didn’t work. And in the end, the things I saw left me lonely, angry, and frustrated. I observed what happened around me, but I could never be a part of it. I was always an outsider. Try as I might, I could not figure out how to get "inside." It seemed everything I tried went wrong.

My first success “joining in” came around age ten. I became a trickster – or, depending upon your perspective, a juvenile delinquent. Whatever you want to call it, I did engage with the world to a greater extent than ever before. But it still wasn’t “normal.” I knew it, and the grownups around me knew it, too.

The pranks showed me something, though. For me, creation is the key to success. Some of my first joy and satisfaction came from thinking things up, and making them. I might not have known how to join a group of kids playing, but I figured out how to create something that other kids wanted to join themselves, or watch, or be a part of some other way. And for me, that was success.

Going my own way is another term for what I did.

After quitting school and joining a band, I became part of the supporting cast – and engineer making sound equipment and special effects. Night after night, the musicians stepped up on stage, and played my equipment. I was the happiest I’d ever been, standing behind the stage, watching the crowd watch my creations. No one in the audience had any idea who I was, or that I was even back there, but it didn’t matter. I knew.

The musicians were the stars – the names everyone knew – but people like me made the performances possible. And that knowledge was enough for me. My creations became a part of the larger whole of the show.

Now, twenty-some years later, I’ve discovered why I never fit in; why I struggled, and I’ve written a book about growing up Aspergian. And from being the frustrated little boy who watched but never joined in, I’ve become the star. At least for a moment. For those of you with Asperger’s, or an Aspergian child, I hope the story of my journey provides hope and inspiration.
If I came this far, you and your kids can, too. All of us look at things and say, I can never do that! Well, I am proof that you just never know what you can do. Twenty years ago, if I had laid out a million things I could do, the list would not have included being a book author or anyone in the public eye.

And yet, here I am.

So today, I start meeting people here at the Book Expo America, and my book is let loose into the world. It won’t be in stores for a few months yet, but the booksellers who learn about Look Me in the Eye this week are the beginning. What will happen? Where will it lead?

It’s a little bit frightening, but the messages from those of you who read my blog and comment (or email me privately) have been a tremendous source of support. I don’t know what I’d do without you all – it’s scary being out here in front. The thing that keeps me going is the overwhelmingly positive responses I get every day.

Together, we will show the world what it’s like, being Aspergian.


Susan said…

These are the kind of posts that make us parents of kids with ASD go "OH!". I can't tell you how important it is to read these - it makes me take a second (and third) look at what my daughter's doing when her peers are around - it looks alot like she is avoiding them - but maybe not - there are quite a few glances their way, now that you mention it! What can I do to help?
irene said…
My instant response is to say, "Go John!!!!" and clapping
Trish Ryan said…
Very cool post - glad to hear you're figuring out how to be on the stage yourself, because if your blogging is any indication of how you can write, you've earned it :)
Holly Kennedy said…
What a nerve wracking and yet equally exciting time for you, John. Have fun giving away those ARCs of LMITE. Lucky are the booksellers who get them!!!
Polly said…
{{{virtual hugs}}}} for John.
You deserve the best! May you baske in the glory of the light you have earned.
Jenn said…

I just want to say "thank you". I am so glad I found your blog! You are truely insightful and I can't wait to read your book.

Michelle O'Neil said…

The first paragraph of this post is my daughter at present. She is a wonderful, beautiful child who does not know how to break the code. How to "get in."

You are truly an inspiration to me.

Congratulations on all your successes.

Enjoy your weekend!

I am so happy for you.

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