Panel at Autism Society Conference

I am scheduled to participate on a panel at the 2013 Autism Society Conference:

Friday, July 12, 2013
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Pittsburgh, PA.

The topic is broad: life. That's a lot to cover in the 15 minutes each of four speakers will be granted. I don't know what I can say in 15 minutes, but I'll give it a shot. The moderator has offered the following ideas:

  • What did family do for you?
  • What were your school experiences?
  • What was a help and what was not helpful?
  • How has your adult life developed?
  • What are you doing and what would you like to do?
  • What are your sensory issues?
  • Do you have friends or relationships?

The quick answers, if I choose to tackle these topics in the short amount of time allotted:

Family, especially my mother, did whatever they could to guarantee a "normal" childhood. School was a miserable experience, even through graduate school. That's how many people would answer, including those without any disabilities. People telling me I need to change and need to be more "charming" annoy me. You want me to do my best work, leave me alone. Adult life has been a lot like high school, and sometimes worse. I'm teaching and writing, doing what I like and wishing I had more time in every day to do more. My senses are always overwhelmed. I'm married to my best friend.

What do people want to know? Why would my answers matter?


  1. I daily ponder on this and expectations...we don't want our children to be lonely, left out, etc. But what does the autistic child and adult want? What if these desires are simply different? Why do parents fear so much? Dealing with fear is also important and perhaps a deeper consideration about the notion of "inclusion" - whose is it anyway? The best question to ask is what do you want? Even my limited verbal son will tell me what he needs and wants beyond just words. You can "talk" without using words, but parents have a hard time listening. We all have to understand that too - parents who are not autistic feel they have to raise their children and provide same opportunities. We have to remind parents of these points and that it's okay to step back a bit, take time, think, consider, listen, watch. The question I ask myself always, and it's never an easy answer, is what makes Adam content? When is he excited about learning? When is he enjoying himself? What does he like doing?

  2. I wish people could believe I'm quite content to be alone or with my wife and a friend or two. I don't need 600 "friends" to validate my pursuits or my existence. People dismiss introverts, anyway, but that's forcing a great many people to try to be something they are not -- extroverts.

    Extroverts need people, so they are out and about, chatting. The introvert is busy solving problems and learning information that an extrovert might spread and promote. I view introverts as the "idea people" and extroverts as the connectors and promoters spreading the ideas.

    Why can't the autistic child be an introvert? Sit, read, play... all alone, thinking in the peace and quiet of solitude. Apparently, we only like the idea of a Thoreau sitting alone thinking. Anyone else sitting alone? There must be something wrong.


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