Are these people unsuitable for public speaking endeavours?

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Zeraeph
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27 Aug 2011, 3:59 pm

MathGirl wrote:
The things you have mentioned above are the perfect example of *why* the autism advocacy industry of today is, by far and large, corrupt. People choose those who they are the most comfortable with. The person who is chosen, though, ends up being someone who has better social skills because you need to be socially aware to an extent in order to understand how to make people around you comfortable. As a result, the public gets an immensely distorted picture of what autism actually is. Some nonverbal autistics would be excellent speakers with assistive technology, but they do not get asked to present for large, NT-run autism organizations because they are not socially engaging enough to be able to network well.


Welcome to the world :D

You also have to be socially engaging to hold an audience and have them pay attention to you...without which you might as well not speak at all. There is always written media for those who cannot work out on the lecture circuit.

However, it seems to me that anneurysm has two problems with these young men.

1) They are not compatible with the image anneurysm is striving to present as a speaker
2) One of them makes anneurysm uncomfortable in a purely social way that also needs to be separately addressed



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27 Aug 2011, 9:38 pm

Zeraeph wrote:
You also have to be socially engaging to hold an audience and have them pay attention to you...without which you might as well not speak at all. There is always written media for those who cannot work out on the lecture circuit.
However, the very anomaly of a non-verbal autistic speaking could captivate public attention. Written communication tends to not be as effective because it is not as direct. A lot of times, people just skim material and do not take it to heart. Stage presence has a much more powerful effect on people.

Seraeph wrote:
1) They are not compatible with the image anneurysm is striving to present as a speaker
2) One of them makes anneurysm uncomfortable in a purely social way that also needs to be separately addressed
Right. Just one thing to keep in mind is, image is not static and an appropriate image can be put on by somebody for something in order to succeed at that something if the person really wants to succeed at that something. As long as the person can keep that image up, they should be fine.

To anneurysm: Don't get me wrong, I support your endeavors and I think you make an excellent public speaker. I just wish you were more inclusive as you claim to be. Trying to maintain a certain image in itself goes against diversity, especially the diversity that the autistic spectrum encompasses. It's like if someone were to exclude you from something just because your obsessive interests made them uncomfortable. The only difference between you and particularly #1 is that you have enough social awareness to keep your interests to yourself. There are some people on the spectrum who will never get to the point of such awareness. I've heard of a man in his 30s who can still easily walk into a bar and just directly ask a female bartender to perform a sexual act on him. However, I have read him write about Asperger's and his writing is absolutely brilliant. Besides, there is no way you could possibly tell why #1 talked to you about these things. But I feel like if you thought about it carefully, you could understand. I think there is a continuum for relationship preferences: on one end, a person may just prefer to stay with one partner. On the other end, a person might only be satisfied when being in multiple relationships at once. There might also be people who are in-between, wanting to have one partner but still experiencing sexual feelings for other people AS WELL as their long-term partner. The interest in porn is another example of just being very sexually non-inhibited. If you rationalize it like that, perhaps you will no longer be so uncomfortable with him. Despite being a social taboo, sexuality is just another topic that is perhaps more pleasurable to discuss than many others.


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anneurysm
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27 Aug 2011, 11:14 pm

MathGirl wrote:
Brutal honesty time.

I see absolutely no connection between #1’s private life and public life. If the large organization in question (know what you’re talking about) has brought him up as a speaker and continues to benefit from engaging him in speeches, he must have credibility as a speaker. From my impression of him, it appears like he does have at least some sense of appropriate and inappropriate in a business setting. In addition, I have researched him a bit myself after meeting him for the first time. I did not find any of the inappropriate stuff that he does that you’re talking about. This was my absolutely first time coming across this information.

That said, the only thing that worries me about #1 is the fact that he does not seek to engage further in the greater autistic community. Without such in-depth engagement, I would be worried about him being unaware of the internal politics of autism organizations and his position in this network of politics. If he does not have experience with a large variety of autistic people across all dimensions of the spectrum, he might possibly make statements that can be ignorant of diversity and be potentially damaging to the autistic community as a whole. Considering that he is still very young, I can see that happening.

I have different advice. I think you should focus on bringing him closer into the autistic sphere. Perhaps you could tell him that in order to improve himself as an autism speaker, it is a must to become integrated with the autistic community through self-advocacy groups like TAAN. I am not trying to recruit new members to our group, I just don’t know of any other group like ours here in Toronto.

#2 also seems very cut-off. He also seems not very intelligent. But you can always ask to hear his presentation and judge for yourself as to the quality of its content. Same goes for #1 – it’s the presentations that matter.


Although I know you are spending less time online, I was actually secretly wishing you read this thread so that I could hear your thoughts on it, and so I would like to thank you for coming on and giving me some input. With #1, I think he conducts himself well online with the exception of his youtube page, which is why you haven't seen anything unusual. I don't believe any professional stuff links to it, but still, I am paranoid about someone finding it. Otherwise, I am very supportive of his endaevours. I think he has a ton of credibility as a speaker, and while I have not attended any of his speeches yet, I am confident that they are of high quality. I really need to see one of his for myself before I jump to conclusions.

What I have an issue with is was how he conducted himself around me offline. I am concerned with what he could potentially say to other people who end up becoming his friends in the autism sphere...I mean, if he talks about his porn or getting away with kissing other girls to others, I will not only be embarrassed for him, but I feel like I would blame myself as I feel that I am the one who should tell him to stop.

I definitely agree that we need to get him more integrated into the autistic community, and I could see his potential involvement in TAAN or even HAADD as a strong asset. I did give him more info on TAAN though and he ignored it. Perhaps you could approach him and offer him the opportunities to get involved in one or both organizations. If you like, I can PM you his email or facebook and you can approach him from there.


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Last edited by anneurysm on 27 Aug 2011, 11:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

anneurysm
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27 Aug 2011, 11:21 pm

Zeraeph wrote:
BUT, in terms of whether anyone should work directly *with* anneurysm it is the *joint* presentations that matter and, in terms of her own future as a public speaker that is what she needs to think about.


This in an excellent point. Since #1 in particular looks up to me a great deal and has asked about possibly collaborating our engagements, our working relationship is very important. Plus, I just don't want to support someone professionally that I have personal issues with, as these are affecting my individual view of him.


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I am an anomaly. Diagnosed with borderline,"tentative" Aspergers at 7 as the school board required me to have a label in order to receive special education services. I did not fit criteria for ASD but that was the closest label that fit my behaviour at the time.

My longtime psychiatrist has confirmed that I do not qualify for an ASD diagnosis (but have traits & OCD-like traits).

Mostly keeping a distance from ASD-related things (including WP).


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27 Aug 2011, 11:36 pm

anneurysm wrote:
Zeraeph wrote:
BUT, in terms of whether anyone should work directly *with* anneurysm it is the *joint* presentations that matter and, in terms of her own future as a public speaker that is what she needs to think about.


This in an excellent point. Since #1 in particular looks up to me a great deal and has asked about possibly collaborating our engagements, our working relationship is very important. Plus, I just don't want to support someone professionally that I have personal issues with, as these are affecting my individual view of him.


I don't think you can afford to be associated with them professionally, which would happen even if it was limited to 'coappearance'.

If you want to try to nurture either of these guys as a friend, do so with care, but I think it would be best to be honest with them about the things that they do that make them unacceptable as an associate, as a public speaker, and of concern to you with respect to friendship.


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anneurysm
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28 Aug 2011, 12:21 am

MathGirl wrote:
Zeraeph wrote:
You also have to be socially engaging to hold an audience and have them pay attention to you...without which you might as well not speak at all. There is always written media for those who cannot work out on the lecture circuit.
However, the very anomaly of a non-verbal autistic speaking could captivate public attention. Written communication tends to not be as effective because it is not as direct. A lot of times, people just skim material and do not take it to heart. Stage presence has a much more powerful effect on people.

Seraeph wrote:
1) They are not compatible with the image anneurysm is striving to present as a speaker
2) One of them makes anneurysm uncomfortable in a purely social way that also needs to be separately addressed
Right. Just one thing to keep in mind is, image is not static and an appropriate image can be put on by somebody for something in order to succeed at that something if the person really wants to succeed at that something. As long as the person can keep that image up, they should be fine.

To anneurysm: Don't get me wrong, I support your endeavors and I think you make an excellent public speaker. I just wish you were more inclusive as you claim to be. Trying to maintain a certain image in itself goes against diversity, especially the diversity that the autistic spectrum encompasses. It's like if someone were to exclude you from something just because your obsessive interests made them uncomfortable. The only difference between you and particularly #1 is that you have enough social awareness to keep your interests to yourself. There are some people on the spectrum who will never get to the point of such awareness. I've heard of a man in his 30s who can still easily walk into a bar and just directly ask a female bartender to perform a sexual act on him. However, I have read him write about Asperger's and his writing is absolutely brilliant. Besides, there is no way you could possibly tell why #1 talked to you about these things. But I feel like if you thought about it carefully, you could understand. I think there is a continuum for relationship preferences: on one end, a person may just prefer to stay with one partner. On the other end, a person might only be satisfied when being in multiple relationships at once. There might also be people who are in-between, wanting to have one partner but still experiencing sexual feelings for other people AS WELL as their long-term partner. The interest in porn is another example of just being very sexually non-inhibited. If you rationalize it like that, perhaps you will no longer be so uncomfortable with him. Despite being a social taboo, sexuality is just another topic that is perhaps more pleasurable to discuss than many others.



I realize that people have a continum for relationships, and because I myself deviate from what is ''normal' in this sphere, I am very respectful of other's preferences. However, I only choose to share this aspect of myself to my closest friends and will not share or hint at it in casual conversation, or when I am just getting to know someone...but that's just me. I do, however, want him to be free in a place where he can be socially uninhibited, This is why he needs to hang around people who are more similar to him socially, in that perhaps they may be more accepting of his behaviour.

I am also thinking about developing more of a working relationship with him and less of a personal, ''buddy-buddy'' social one. He always wants to ''hang out'' with me socially and doesn't seem to want to talk with me much about AS related issues. As you know, I prefer to spend my purely social time with NTs, and prefer to spend time with spectrumites discussing ideas and issues which are AS and disability related (like how we do), just because it is what makes me the most comfortable. He needs to have friends who will not feel embarrassed for him but will perhaps explore sexual issues frankly and curiously, like you do. This will be another advantage of getting him involved in autistic-run groups.

I truly wish I was more accepting of people, although I will emphasise that my view of autistic public representation has drastically changed in the past year. (I am directly referencing the first paragraph of this thread here).

I will honestly tell you where it comes from though: when I see other people displaying behaviours that remind me of myself as a kid, I have the urge to correct them because for the vast majority of my life, I did this, both unconciously and conciously, to myself. No one told me there was another way to exist in the world until fairly recently, and so I echoed the reactions of the teachers and other 'professionals' by instantly, subconciously interpreting this way of being as wrong, faulty, or somehow bad. I know, deep down inside, it is not.

This, like it or not, is the attitude the vast majority of people I meet take, especially parents, teachers and support workers. It is not just me who feeds into and perpetuates this view. The attitude of people who claim to support autistic people needs to drastically change.
This attitude is also strongly reflected in the views of the vast majority of autistic people I meet. There are two notable exceptions though, and they are you and someone we both know (and whom you have recently visited).

And personally, I hate that I have learned this behaviour and went along with the rest of the herd. I am committed to breaking free from this, though, much like you have. I have a feeling that I will though, but it will take time.


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I am an anomaly. Diagnosed with borderline,"tentative" Aspergers at 7 as the school board required me to have a label in order to receive special education services. I did not fit criteria for ASD but that was the closest label that fit my behaviour at the time.

My longtime psychiatrist has confirmed that I do not qualify for an ASD diagnosis (but have traits & OCD-like traits).

Mostly keeping a distance from ASD-related things (including WP).


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28 Aug 2011, 2:39 am

I've only skimmed this thread, but maybe you could audition them. That way you could see if the behavior that bothers you carries over into their speaking or not. There is the off change that they're crazy Hunter S. Thompson types with bad behavior but good writing (speaking) ability (ok, not very likely, but possible). And if they do not give professional enough presentations you have something concrete and not just based on personal interactions with them on which to base decision for not taking them on.

As far as working with them being difficult, though, that is another important issue. I guess you'll have to decide what is most important. Ultimately, it's your "party" and you're the boss, so you get to decide whatever you want, and you don't owe anyone any explanations.



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28 Aug 2011, 5:12 am

MathGirl wrote:
However, the very anomaly of a non-verbal autistic speaking could captivate public attention. Written communication tends to not be as effective because it is not as direct. A lot of times, people just skim material and do not take it to heart. Stage presence has a much more powerful effect on people.


Absolutely, and assistive technology plus off key body language is not going to engage a live audience this side of eternity. Stephen Hawking developed his following in writing, so did Amanda Baggs. Carly Fleischmann's audience was built through written word and short edited video clips.



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28 Aug 2011, 9:51 am

Zeraeph wrote:
MathGirl wrote:
However, the very anomaly of a non-verbal autistic speaking could captivate public attention. Written communication tends to not be as effective because it is not as direct. A lot of times, people just skim material and do not take it to heart. Stage presence has a much more powerful effect on people.
Absolutely, and assistive technology plus off key body language is not going to engage a live audience this side of eternity. Stephen Hawking developed his following in writing, so did Amanda Baggs. Carly Fleischmann's audience was built through written word and short edited video clips.
Yet all I keep hearing about from the general public when talking to them about autism is Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin and how phenomenal she is, when her views of autism are outdated and distorted to say the least. You will be amazed to know how much fewer non-autistic people use the Internet aside from the usual Facebook. People don't even check their e-mail for weeks at a time. Forums, educational videos, blogs, etc. tend to be frequented by a seriously academically-inclined crowd, which really is a minority within the general population. And when I say "blogs", I'm not talking about Perez Hilton.


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28 Aug 2011, 10:12 am

MathGirl wrote:
Yet all I keep hearing about from the general public when talking to them about autism is Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin and how phenomenal she is, when her views of autism are outdated and distorted to say the least.


Well it's because there is no really big pro-us organisation with all-round support. The fact is that most people here believe in something that excuses in part or whole a behaviour that isn't autism, but has everything to do with what happens when you are given the effective label of social idiot.

There is no actual unified theory of what autism is because nearly everything about what autism is has been debated and each group or individual has refused to give up their view. The truth and what people say autism is are like two barely overlapping circles on a venn diagram. From the hippy attitude of indigo children to refrigerator moms, I am sure that there are more explanations for the cause of autism then there are kinds of culinary spices in india.



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28 Aug 2011, 10:13 am

MathGirl wrote:
Yet all I keep hearing about from the general public when talking to them about autism is Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin and how phenomenal she is, when her views of autism are outdated and distorted to say the least.


Well it's because there is no really big pro-us organisation with all-round support. The fact is that most people here believe in something that excuses in part or whole a behaviour that isn't autism, but has everything to do with what happens when you are given the effective label of social idiot.

There is no actual unified theory of what autism is because nearly everything about what autism is has been debated and each group or individual has refused to give up their view. The truth and what people say autism is are like two barely overlapping circles on a venn diagram. From the hippy attitude of indigo children to refrigerator moms, I am sure that there are more explanations for the cause of autism then there are kinds of culinary spices in india.



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28 Aug 2011, 10:28 am

MathGirl wrote:
Yet all I keep hearing about from the general public when talking to them about autism is Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin and how phenomenal she is, when her views of autism are outdated and distorted to say the least. You will be amazed to know how much fewer non-autistic people use the Internet aside from the usual Facebook. People don't even check their e-mail for weeks at a time. Forums, educational videos, blogs, etc. tend to be frequented by a seriously academically-inclined crowd, which really is a minority within the general population. And when I say "blogs", I'm not talking about Perez Hilton.


One of my all time most embarassing moments was being "friended" by Temple Grandin on facebook...I am happy to co-exist with her, have nothing against her as a person, wouldn't hurt her feelings as a real autistic woman for the world, but I am *not* a fan.

What people ignore is that she is an expert on livestock control, not autism, who comes from a part of the world known for it's idiosyncratic behaviour and attitudes even at it's most NT, as well as from wealth and privilege most of us never gets a proper look at.

The upside is, it's nowhere near as bad as when "Mozart and the Whale" and Gerry Newport, of all people, defined us...before that it was "Rainman"...so there has been progress of a sort...

Remember, there is more to writing than the internet...Stephen Hawking was not an internet phenomenon...and even if it was, to be honest, a far higher proportion of NT people spend time on the internet than go to see Autistic keynote speakers.

If the PR aspect of Autism was easy we would have pulled it off YEARS ago. :)

But the best use of anyone is in their element, at their best advantage. In a sense that IS the whole story you need to sell, that autism is about working WITH our abilities and limitations, not against them....put a non verbal autistic on a podium with assistive technology and you hogtie him...let him script a recorded video documentary and you let him shine. Last I heard they still put video on TV, which is the biggest audience of all, and if you have a REALLY WELL produced video, and you are offering it for free, a LOT of small stations will be happy to air it...and scoff not at the small stations...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/au ... -sangat-tv

They can wind up with the biggest voice of all...



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28 Aug 2011, 4:50 pm

anneurysm wrote:
I think he conducts himself well online with the exception of his youtube page, which is why you haven't seen anything unusual. I don't believe any professional stuff links to it, but still, I am paranoid about someone finding it.


I still do not see why you are concerned about this happening. How does this affect you in any way. If he is exposed as a porn addict it may discredit him. But there is no no rational reason for you to get paranoid. It has no effect on you career, And I doubt it will have any effect on the community.

I feel there is a subtext to your posts in this thread that bothers me. that is that these people should be disallowed or discouraged from public speaking so they won't tarnish the public image of the Autistic community. But the only people that would make such generalizations are bigots. What bothers me is that you would rather discourage someone from speaking out in fear of a potential backlash by the ignorant. Rather than stand up to such bigotry. This seems to be a very cowardly stance to me.



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28 Aug 2011, 5:13 pm

Drifter, that is not bigotry, unfortunately it is professional standard public relations...which is only a polite term for propaganda after all...BUT...it is a very powerful tool when used effectively...and to achieve any worthwhile objectives we have to learn to use it effectively, to be able to compete with the people who use it effectively against our interests.

The same rules apply as apply to mainstream politics.

It would be an epic fail for a speaker to build a high profile then be exposed as an indiscrete poontang hound I am afraid.



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28 Aug 2011, 5:53 pm

Zeraeph wrote:
Remember, there is more to writing than the internet...Stephen Hawking was not an internet phenomenon...and even if it was, to be honest, a far higher proportion of NT people spend time on the internet than go to see Autistic keynote speakers.

But the best use of anyone is in their element, at their best advantage. In a sense that IS the whole story you need to sell, that autism is about working WITH our abilities and limitations, not against them....put a non verbal autistic on a podium with assistive technology and you hogtie him...let him script a recorded video documentary and you let him shine. Last I heard they still put video on TV, which is the biggest audience of all, and if you have a REALLY WELL produced video, and you are offering it for free, a LOT of small stations will be happy to air it...and scoff not at the small stations..
That is true. These are effective mediums. Writers like Donna Williams and Tito Rajashi Mukhopadyay have already helped spread the world of autism to the public. I have only seen a few of the videos created by such autistic self-advocates being broadcasted on TV; there should be many more being done. It is difficult to get a documentary aired on a popular channel, and the smaller ones again don't reach a wide population. Many NTs do use the Internet, but many don't, including some people I know in person. Since it is possible that there are some people who are exposed to one medium predominantly, I still think that people from all dimensions of the spectrum should try to represent themselves through every medium possible.

If there was enough media out there, parents would have more exposure to the non-treatment side of things from the beginning. Unfortunately, the "coping with autism" message is still being widely spread. People still keep differentiating between "high-functioning" and "low-functioning". Parents see the most communicatively typical autistics up on the stage and then leave with a message that being verbal and learning NT behaviours is the only possible image of success. The problem is, even much of the impersonal media is dominated by this message. There isn't much of the other side being shown in any of the mediums. The examples you have cited are few and far-in-between. It's sad how many people know of Temple Grandin but have barely heard of Amanda Baggs.


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28 Aug 2011, 6:04 pm

...not least because Amanda is far warmer and wittier than Temple Grandin by any standards. :)

But still, the only way you "sell" an idea is on the customer's terms.

When you are introducing a new concept to people, like a non-verbal autistic who is engaging and intelligent you have to approach them on terms they already accept first and us all the skill at your disposal to adjust their mindset to the new ground you want them to accept..