Finding Kansas: Living and Decoding Asperger's Syndrome
What began as an exercise to work through daunting experiences would eventually become this powerful collection of essays about understanding Asperger Syndrome. Finding Kansas captures Aaron Likens' introspective journey from awkward early teens to roller-coaster 20s and onward to an empowering future.
To Aaron, Kansas represents a place where he is safe and confident. (Believe it or not, he's not from Kansas.) He was diagnosed with Aspeger's as a young man, so writing became a way for him to tease out how the disorder had played a role in his early behaviors and interactions. He analyzes relationships with girls, uncomfortable work environments, his fixation on car racing and more, and from this he develops useful theories to help him (and his readers) begin to understand how his brain works. By the final chapter, he has a hopeful tone and promising outlook for coping with Asperger's—and finding Kansas.
Aaron's open self-examination and raw emotion really struck a chord with me. I've only recently begun to learn about Asperger Syndrome and notice its effect in my life and those around me, and his story has helped me be more aware, understanding and adaptive to others whose social behaviors, anxiety and priorities differ from my own. I recommend this book to anyone, whether you're interested in the autism spectrum or just curious about life in someone else's mind. You can also check out Aaron's blog, Life on the Other Side of the Wall, where he continues to write and explore life with Asperger's.