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An Evening with Author John Elder Robison

September 19, 2023 | 7:00 pm


Be Different: My Adventures with Asperger’s and My Advice for Fellow Aspergians, Misfits, Families, and Teachers

In Be DifferentNew York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye shares a new batch of endearing stories about his childhood, adolescence, and young adult years, giving the reader a rare window into the Autistic mind.

In his bestselling memoir Look Me in the Eye, John Elder Robison described growing up with Autism Spectrum Disorder at a time when the diagnosis didn’t exist. He was intelligent but socially isolated; his talents won him jobs with toy makers and rock bands but did little to endear him to authority figures and classmates, who were put off by his inclination to blurt out non sequiturs and avoid eye contact.

By the time he was diagnosed at age 40, John had already developed a myriad of coping strategies that helped him achieve a seemingly normal, even highly successful, life.

In each story, he offers practical advice for anyone who feels “different” on how to improve the weak communication and social skills that keep so many people from taking full advantage of their often remarkable gifts. With his trademark honesty and unapologetic eccentricity, Robison addresses questions like:

• How to read others and follow their behaviors when in uncertain social situations
• Why manners matter
• How to harness your powers of concentration to master difficult skills
• How to deal with bullies
• When to make an effort to fit in, and when to embrace eccentricity
• How to identify special gifts and use them to your advantage

Every person has something unique to offer the world, and every person has the capacity to create strong, loving bonds with their friends and family. Be Different will help readers and those they love find their path to success.



The Common Reading Program is a unit within Appalachian’s University College. University College consists of the University’s integrated general education curriculum, academic support services, residential learning communities, and co-curricular programming – all designed to support the work of students both inside and outside of the classroom. 

MORE INFORMATION at commonreading.appstate.edu


John Elder Robison is an autistic adult who works to increase public understanding of neurodiversity. He helps schools, businesses and government accommodate and encourage individuals with differences. He’s a strong advocate for autism science and research. John believes people who are different deserve an equal shot at success in work and social life, and he’s dedicated to helping make this happen. John is active on numerous ASD-related boards and committees in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

John is currently on the board of INSAR, the International Society for Autism Research. He is on the advisory board for the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California at Davis.

John is Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William & Mary, advisor to the Center for Neurodiversity at Landmark College, and the co-founder of TCS Auto Program — a high school program for teens with challenges. He served eight years on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, Dept of Health and Human Services. He also served on the steering committee for the ICF Autism Core Set project, and on organizing committees for INSAR, the Institute for Autism Research, panels and committees for the National Institutes of Health, and boards for the Centers for Disease Control.

John’s books are collectively the most widely read accounts of life with autism/Asperger’s in the world. Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby have been translated into more than 15 languages, and sold in 70+ countries. His fourth book — Switched On — is in development as a film from Focus Features.

John has had a lifelong interest in cars. He is the founder of JE Robison Service of Springfield, Mass., a business that restores Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes, and BMW automobiles. Robison Service is an authorized Bosch Car Service center. The company’s restorations have won numerous awards at shows across North America. He is a technical advisor to several car clubs, the technical editor for the Rolls-Royce Club of America and a judge for many concours events.

Earlier John worked as an engineer in music and electronics. He was the American engineer for Britannia Row Audio, the sound company formed by the musical group Pink Floyd. He is the creator of the signature illuminated, fire-breathing, and rocket-launching special effects guitars played by KISS.

John lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and family. 

We would like to thank our corporate, hotel and media sponsors for their generous support.

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September 19, 2023
7:00 pm
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Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts
733 Rivers St
Boone, NC 28607
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