This review is written with thanks to Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read and review Keep Clear: My Adventures With Asperger’s.
A wonderfully bittersweet, funnystrange account of living unwittingly with Asperger’s syndrome.
It is only after a crack-up, at the age of 55, that Tom Cutler gets the diagnosis that allows him to make sense of everything that’s come before, including his weird obsessions with road-sign design, magic tricks, gyroscopes, and Sherlock Holmes. Finally realising that he has Asperger’s allows a light to dawn on the riddles of his life: his accidental rudeness, maladroitness, unease, Pan Am smile, and other social impediments. But, like many with Asperger’s, Tom possesses great facility with words, and this shines through this exceptionally warm, bright, and moving memoir, which is alternately strikingly revealing, laugh-out-loud funny, and achingly sad.
Tom explores his eccentric behaviour from boyhood to manhood, examines the role of autism in his strange family, and investigates the scientific explanations for the condition. He recounts his anxiety and bewilderment in social situations, his particular trouble with girls, his sensory overload, and his strange dress sense. He shares his autistic adventures in offices, toyshops, backstage in theatres, and in book and magazine publishing houses, as well as on or more often off roads.
When I chose to read Keep Clear: My Adventures With Asperger’s I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect. It isn’t my usual type of read, but I found it funny, informative, poignant and above all, engaging.
I know the basics about Asperger’s Syndrome from working with and having friends with the condition However, Cutler not only put meat on the bones for me, but allowed me to think about how certain situations would feel to someone with Asperger’s. It has certainly made me think about how I could approach things differently to make them feel more comfortable.
It is only in relatively recent times that Asperger’s Syndrome has become more widely recognised and diagnosed, and Cutler makes it clear that there are several figures in history who displayed traits which suggest they may have had Asperger’s Syndrome. He gives several examples of these people, which have clearly been thoroughly researched and I found his insight fascinating.
In Keep Clear: My Adventures With Asperger’s Cutler shares with the reader his experiences of socialising, first at university and later as he looks for, and finds, employment. Throughout these passages, Cutler encourages us to laugh with him and there are several moments that provide the book with its brilliant humour. We are also introduced to Cutler’s friends, who are colourful characters and also add to this effect.
Keep Clear: My Adventures With Asperger’s is available from Amazon.