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First Look: John Elder Robison’s New Book, <em>Switched On</em>
Mental Health | January 28, 2016

First Look: John Elder Robison’s New Book, Switched On

John Elder Robison—bestselling author, neurodiversity scholar, and leading voice on autism—has a new book hitting stores on March 22. Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening tells the astonishing story of how Robinson underwent TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Harvard’s cutting-edge brain therapy that can “unlock” emotional intelligence in people on the autism spectrum. The results? Nothing short of an extraordinary, and moving, transformation. “For the first time in my life,” Robison writes, “I learned what it was like to truly ‘know’ other people’s feelings. It was as if I’d been experiencing the world in black and white all my life, and suddenly I could see everything—and particularly other people—in brilliant beautiful color.”

Switched On has already gathered some glowing praise. Author of The Autistic Brain Temple Grandin says it’s “a mind-blowing book that will force you to ask deep questions about what is important in life. Would normalizing the brains of those who think differently reduce their motivation for great achievement?” Simon Baron-Cohen of Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre raves that “Robison’s honest, brilliant, and very personal account helps us understand the perspective of someone living with autism.”

In his keynotes, Robison speaks on his remarkable life with Asperger’s, how a disability can be re-imagined as a difference, or a gift, and how we can best educate and employ people on the autism spectrum. He distills the personal experiences (and research) of his bestselling books into accessible and inspiring talks that translate a much-misunderstood realm. Now, with Switched On, he explores the insights—and new problems—that come from learning how to read other people’s emotions in ways he never thought possible. A must read. 

From the publisher, Spiegel & Grau: 

“An extraordinary memoir about the cutting-edge brain therapy that dramatically changed the life and mind of John Elder Robison, the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye.

Imagine spending the first forty years of your life in darkness, blind to the emotions and social signals of other people. Then imagine that someone suddenly switches the lights on.

It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we’ve been wrong all this time? What if that “missing” emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind?
 
In 2007, John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Amid the blaze of publicity that followed, he received a unique invitation: Would John like to take part in a study led by one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, who would use an experimental new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an effort to understand and then address the issues at the heart of autism? Switched On is the extraordinary story of what happened next.
 
Having spent forty years as a social outcast, misreading others’ emotions or missing them completely, John is suddenly able to sense a powerful range of feelings in other people. However, this newfound insight brings unforeseen problems and serious questions. As the emotional ground shifts beneath his feet, John struggles with the very real possibility that choosing to diminish his disability might also mean sacrificing his unique gifts and even some of his closest relationships. Switched On is a real-life Flowers for Algernon, a fascinating and intimate window into what it means to be neurologically different, and what happens when the world as you know it is upended overnight.”

To book mental health, Autism, and neuroscience speaker John Elder Robison for your next keynote event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.
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