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

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

by John Elder Robison


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The slyly funny, sweetly moving memoir of an unconventional dad’s relationship with his equally offbeat son—complete with fast cars, tall tales, homemade explosives, and a whole lot of fun and trouble 
John Robison was not your typical dad. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of forty, he approached fatherhood as a series of logic puzzles and practical jokes. Instead of a speech about the birds and the bees, he told his son, Cubby, that he'd bought him at the Kid Store—and that the salesman had cheated him by promising Cubby would “do all chores.” While other parents played catch with their kids, John taught Cubby to drive the family's antique Rolls-Royce. Still, Cubby seemed to be turning out pretty well, at least until school authorities decided that he was dumb and stubborn—the very same thing John had been told as a child. Did Cubby have Asperger’s too? The answer was unclear.

One thing was clear, though: By the time he turned seventeen, Cubby had become a brilliant and curious chemist—smart enough to make military-grade explosives and bring federal agents calling. With Cubby facing a felony trial—and up to sixty years in prison—both father and son were forced to take stock of their lives, finally accepting that being “on the spectrum” is both a challenge and a unique gift.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307884855
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/18/2014
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 501,089
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

JOHN ELDER ROBISON is the author of two previous books, the New York Times bestseller Look Me in the Eye and Be Different.  He lectures widely on autism and neurological differences, and is a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.  John also serves on committees and review boards for the CDC and the National Institutes of Health. A machinery enthusiast and avid photographer, John lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with his family, animals, and machines.

Table of Contents

1 Every Parent's Worst Nightmare 1

2 From Dropout to Executive 6

3 An Incipient Bear Cub 17

4 Names 23

5 Hatching Time 26

6 A Proud, Scared Dad 31

7 The King of Everything 36

8 Two-Wheel Drive 42

9 Tell Me What You Want 47

10 The Aerial Child 52

11 Monsters 55

12 Child Support 58

13 The Best Kid in the Store 61

14 Wondrous Dada 68

15 Tuck-in Time 73

16 Role Models 81

17 Elves 87

18 The Oxbow Incident 94

19 The Old Boy 100

20 The Power of Wizards 106

21 Becoming Owners 111

22 Cubby Versus the School 119

23 Reading 129

24 An Official Geek 133

25 Divorce 139

26 Dreaming Cubby 144

27 Child Protection 149

28 Bulldozing Off 152

29 The Strolling of the Heifers 156

30 From Stockholder to Chairman 161

31 Gymnastics 165

32 Geologists 170

33 Learning to Drive 176

34 Power Generation 183

35 Boom! 191

36 Amherst 198

37 Pine Demons 208

38 A New Nest 214

39 In the High School Groove 219

40 A Different Animal 226

41 Nicole 231

42 Declaration of Independence 239

43 Blowing Up 246

44 A Visit from the ATF 256

45 The Raid Begins 268

46 The Locus of the Investigation 273

47 The Circus Must Go On 283

48 The DA 292

49 Arraignment 301

50 Asperger's and Cubby 304

51 In Limbo 308

52 The Trial Begins 313

53 The Crime of Inquisitiveness 320

54 Defending Cubby 329

55 The Verdict 339

Epilogue 342

Author's Note 355

Acknowledgments 357

Closing the Circle 361

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“How does a man who lacks a sense of empathy and an ability to read nonverbal cues learn to be a father? And how does a man with Asperger’s learn to recognize the same symptoms in his own child? (A key element in the book is Robison’s son’s own diagnosis, and Robison’s reaction to his having missed seeing the signs for as long as he had.) In many ways, this is a traditional father-and-son memoir, but the added element of Asperger’s gives the story a stronger emotional core: when Robison and his wife separated, for example, he realized he had been misreading a lot of what had been going on between them. It’s a story of a man learning to be a parent, yes, but it’s also—and perhaps more importantly—the story of a man discovering, as an adult, who he really is.”

"John Elder Robison is one of my autism super heroes because he bravely brings humor and humility to the heart and soul of the taboo and unexpected corners of life lived with autism.  His new book, Raising Cubby, is more than a memoir about a father and son bound by their Asperger syndrome. It’s a story that reminds us how precious and precarious the parent child relationship is and how beautiful our lives can be when we are share that ride together. Raising Cubby is Robison’s best work yet.”
Liane Holliday-Willey, coauthor of Pretending To Be Normal: Living with Asperger Syndrome
“John Robison's skill as a master storyteller is nowhere more evident than in his third book, Raising Cubby. This heartwarming memoir takes us on the colorful journey of John and his son, Jack (aka Cubby), as they learn about the world together. At turns funny and poignant, it is, above all, the story of the powerful love of a father for his son. Told in the immensely entertaining and engaging style of John Elder Robison, it should be on everyone’s must-read list.”
Lori S. Shery, President and Founder, ASPEN®

"Funny and moving...A warmhearted, appealing account by a masterful storyteller."
Kirkus Reviews

"Robison's third book starts with a bang—his description of the 'malicious explosion' created by his teenage Cubby that has the boy, who has Asperger's syndrome, looking at 60 years in prison, is as disconcerting as it is captivating....With the ensuing investigation and trial, Cubby and the author are drawn into a crazy world that threatens to tear apart their already delicate lives."
Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews