Grateful Nation Spotlight Series

In Grateful Nation's Spotlight Series, well-known people from all walks of life discuss the idea of gratitude. What does it mean to them? What is its role in their lives? How have they been bettered by expressing their gratitude? Check back frequently to see who's contributing to the greater grateful good.

John Elder Robison – Authoring Help for those with Asperger’s

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“I am grateful for Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone and the brilliant doctors and scientists in BIDMC’s TMS lab. I am also grateful for the opportunity to have contributed to what I believe is one of the fundamental breakthroughs in autism research and neuroscience.”

For best-selling author John Elder Robison, a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 40 was something of a revelation, explaining everything from the social isolation of his youth to his penchant for electronics. With this new insight into his life, Robison discovered that he could help others with the disease, an autism spectrum disorder.  Writing his bestselling memoir Look Me in the Eye (with the sequel to come in April 2011) and speaking publicly about his own experiences has earned Robison international recognition and caught the attention of BIDMC neurologist Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., Ph.D.

In April of 2008, Pascual-Leone invited Robison to participate in groundbreaking research involving transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive technique that is helping doctors better understand how the brain works and alter its performance to potentially treat disorders as varied as autism, depression, epilepsy, and stroke. For Robison, TMS has been a life-changing experience. It gave him the ability to read ordinary nonverbal cues from other people, an essential part of successful social interaction and something otherwise difficult for people with Asperger’s.

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