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Switched On

My Journey from Asperger’s to Emotional Awareness

John Elder Robison

Imagine hearing the words of a song but not feeling the passion that lies within. Imagine living for years with someone in need and not being able to sense their sadness. Imagine your world turned upside down

Like so many others, John Elder Robison was born with Asperger’s. Over the years, he misread others’ emotions or missed them altogether. Yet he’d also married, raised a son and become a successful businessman, designing sound systems for rock bands, creating robot games for Milton Bradley and building a car business. Then, at the age of fifty, he became a participant in a major study that would use an experimental brain therapy in an effort to understand and address the issues at the heart of autism. Initially, the results are startling. John’s world is shaken by a previously unknown level of emotional awareness. But over the weeks that follow he struggles with the very real possibility that choosing to diminish his ‘disability’ might also mean sacrificing his unique gifts and maybe even some of his closest relationships.

  • Publication date: February 2, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781786070388
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: April 7, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780745527
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 320


‘An eye-opening book with a radical messageThe transformations [John Elder Robison] undergoes throughout the book are astonishing.’

New York Times

‘Astonishing, braveSwitched On reads like a medical thriller and keeps you wondering what will happen next[Robison] takes readers for a ride through the thorny thickets of neuroscience and leaves us wanting more. He is deft at explaining difficult concepts and doesn’t shy from asking hard questions. This is a truly unusual memoir – both poignant and scientifically important.’

Washington Post

'Robison's writings are…logical, restrained, lacking in self-pity…Like Awakenings, this book raises deep philosophical problems'. 


‘John Elder Robison is an extraordinary guide... At the heart of Switched On are fundamental questions of who we are, where our identity resides, of difference and disability and free will, that are brought into sharp focus by Robison’s lived experience.’

Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project

‘Fascinating... Robison’s honest, brilliant, and very personal account helps us understand the perspective of someone living with autism.’

Simon Baron-Cohen, professor, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University

‘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?’

Temple Grandin, author of The Autistic Brain

John Elder Robison

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