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08-10-2015

Author John Elder Robison to Speak on Life with Asperger's, Aug. 23 at Clarkson University

Author John Elder Robison will deliver the Van Sickle Endowed Lecture as Clarkson University celebrates the start of the 2015-2016 academic year with a convocation.

John Elder RobisonRobison, author of Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's, will speak at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23, in Cheel Arena. The event is free and open to the public.

He also will attend a reception and book signing preceding Convocation from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Kodak Lounge in the Cheel Campus Center.

In his bestselling memoir, Robison recounts his incredible life with illuminating insight. The author grew up with Asperger's syndrome at a time when the diagnosis didn't exist, and he wasn't diagnosed until age 40. The book was named one of the top books of the year by Amazon, was listed in Publisher's Weekly as one of the top selling books in America for three years in a row, and was a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Award.

Robison, an adjunct professor at Elms College in Massachusetts, shares in his lectures how he overcame enormous odds to lead a fulfilling life: from an antisocial child to a successful father now running a multi-million dollar car specialty shop and his own photography business.

Though his life is unique -- he's designed guitars for KISS and toys for Milton Bradley -- it's equally rich with clues to both spotting autism spectrum disorders in children and harnessing the best from those already diagnosed. Children with autism spectrum disorders can excel in math, engineering and technology.

Currently involved in autism research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Robison has been applauded by thousands -- the general public, teachers and mental health workers -- for his storytelling skill, his on-stage compassion and his insistence that anyone can lead successful lives according to gifts, not limitations. Asperger's is not a disease that needs curing; it's a way of experiencing life that requires only understanding and encouragement from others.

In affecting, unforgettable talks, Robison reminds his audiences that people "on the spectrum" can develop throughout their lives, and that it's never too late to hope for or expect change.

The Kenneth J. and Irla Van Sickle Endowed Lectureship was established in 1992 through generous bequests from the estates of Kenneth and Irla Van Sickle of Shortsville, N.Y. The Van Sickles shared interests in photography, gardening, nature and stamp collecting. During their long and active lives, the Van Sickles were dedicated to hard work, placing great value on education, particularly higher education.

The convocation will also be streamed live online at http://clarkson.edu/live at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/jerobison.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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