The Autism Spectrum and You

Presented at HOPE Number Nine (2012), July 13, 2012, noon (60 minutes)

As a kid, were you considered precocious? Considered eccentric (or just plain weird) by other kids? Have you ever thought that your sensory perceptions are different from other people? Were you (are you still) the “little professor,” intent on teaching everyone about your unique interest(s)? Do you possess unusual interests? Were you bullied? Did you (do you still) live in your own world with restricted interests? As a child, did you accumulate facts but not really understand them? Do you often assume a literal meaning for metaphorical or ambiguous language? Do you make naive or embarrassing remarks with surprising frequency? Do you often fail to comprehend unspoken modes of communication? Have special routines that cannot be altered? Have unusual facial expressions, vocalizations, or posture? Are you, in fact, bewildered by proper behavior? Are you “face-blind” - unable to remember what the people you encounter every day look like, or to recognize them when you encounter them? If you answer many or just some of these questions affirmatively, congratulations! You, like many of your fellow attendees at HOPE, may have an alternate configuration for the wiring of your brain, now called an Autism Spectrum Disorder (it used to be called Asperger’s Syndrome). At HOPE, we’re the majority; neurotypicals are the rest of the world that do not understand us and may even be afraid of us. Most on the spectrum are male, but there are a lot of females flying under the radar. This panel will discuss the spectrum and how we fit on it, and how we interact with the world at large.


  • Jack Robison
    Jack Robison got in a lot of trouble five years ago for his autistic interest: chemistry. He was found not guilty on all charges and is now a chemistry major in college. He, with Kirsten Lindsmith, was the subject of a lengthy article on young people on the spectrum in The New York Times. He is a co-host of Autism Talk TV.
  • Kirsten Lindsmith
    Kirsten Lindsmith is a college student, studying to become a coroner. She may look like our token “pretty young woman on the spectrum,” but she writes columns for and for She and Jack Robison were the subjects of a lengthy article in The New York Times in December 2011, and she is a co-host of Autism Talk TV.
  • Mary Robison
  • Alex Plank
    Alex Plank runs the website, which specializes in all things autistic. He is also a co-host of Autism Talk TV, an Internet program sponsored by Autism Speaks.


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