The Ingenious Mind of John E. Robison


Last week, the Science Channel (a division of Discovery) aired an episode of "Ingenious Minds" and took a closer look at the life and mind of John E. Robison. The show gave a fascinating glimpse into Robison’s trials and triumphs growing up with both Savant Syndrome and Asperger’s Syndrome.

At the age of 16, Robison dropped out of high school and pursued a career in engineering, where he excelled in many areas, despite his lack of a formal education. Robison didn’t require schooling because his mind can quickly master subjects that take neurotypical individuals years to learn. However, in exchange for those technical gifts, he has suffered from crippling social skills, which severely inhibited his ability to fit in both as a child and as an adult.

In his early years, Robison racked up an incredible resume that included work in the areas of sound technology, special effects, toys, nuclear testing devices and medical lasers.

Robison is yet another example of a long list of individuals with autism that have greatly contributed to our world through their unique gifts. For the most part, he has overcome many of his earlier challenges and is now a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and autism advocate.

If you missed "Ingenious Minds" on the Science Channel last week, you can view the episode in its entirety below.

PART I

PART II

4 Responses to The Ingenious Mind of John E. Robison

  1. Hi Gary, Thank you for posting this, it is a fascinating story. As we begin to understand more about how the brain works and the effects of neuroplasticity of the brain, there is no doubt that early diagnosis and therapies, coupled with parents who are willing to be open in looking at ASD in a context of wholeness, is the key. Asperger’s is not a disability, but a different way of viewing life. And we need to help those diagnosed embrace their uniqueness and develop strategies to help them understand our world.

  2. Mike Tipton says:

    I hope someday to join in your study. Even though it’s not quite the same, I suffered many years from Bipolar Type I before it was handled, and even though my intellect/education was leading me to my dream of “Rocket Scientist” (wanted to be a specialized industrial engineer) the social skills, communication skills are such that the “norm” have a very tough time with me.
    Luckily I found Landscaping….
    However, I would love to be a part of an MRI or related research, and eventually give my brain to science.

  3. Alan Covell says:

    I have Asperger’s and like John, it was hell as a child; moving around a lot didn’t help–I was beaten up a dozens of playgrounds. The strange aspect of this is that when I went to Japan and Korea and learned these cultures/languages, the highly structured nature of these societies (you ALWAYS know where you belong and the languages match this) made it easier to fit in. (One can learn the proper response to any situation, but its like a script that is memorized, not really integrated mentally.)

    I didn’t have quite the engineering/technical success that John did due to severe dyslexia, especially with numbers. I eventually succeeded due to finding a woman who believed in me absolutely and saw me as a hero; she saw me as someone who could do anything I put my mind to, so became one for her, getting a PhD in Psychometric and Statistical measurement. (This was like running marathons with peg-legs.) I am now a Computer Engineer, but not at the genius level like John.

    KNOWING that you have a condition and what strengths you do have, as well as the weaknesses, allows one to adapt and survive.

  4. This is my first post – have been following your web page for months now. Pardon Me for being off subject however , I’m Irish and I’ve just relocated to the Land Of Smiles. I must learn thai because I only know various romantic & phrases that I learnt from an English Thai Ebook. I have studied other thai books but I need a thai language school recommend. At the present I’m in Hua Hin so please can somebody assist me. Thank you.

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
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