Saturday, November 15, 2008

A night to remember

Book engagements are all different. I’ve been to events with five people, and then had five hundred a day later in another city. You just never know what you’ll find. The people are the same way . . . sometimes they just make an impression on you, like they did last night.

At the big events, you can’t really connect with the audience like you can at small ones. There are just too many people. When you sign books, you are always aware that there are a hundred more people in line, so it’s rushed. And when the line ends, you’re tired because it was so long.

At a big event, you never get to find out about the audience. You tell your story, answer questions, but there are so many people that you just can’t have individual conversations. Last night’s event was different. It was at the Enfield B&N as part of WGBY Public Television’s weekend campaign.

The crowd was small. We had a mom and daughter, a mom, son and husband, three moms, a teacher, and a mom and her mother. A total of eleven people. There was no stage or podium, just us sitting in chairs toward the back of the store.

I didn’t actually read from the book at all. We just sat there and talked about their kids, my kid, my childhood, and their hopes for the future. It was more like an Asperger support group meeting, really. Before I knew it, two and a half hours had passed.

I invited everyone to my December program at Elms College where they could meet teachers in the graduate autism program, and learn more. I also suggested some local resources like the Asperger Association of New England. One of the moms said, “I’m not from this area.”

I was stunned to find she and her daughter had driven three hours from Bergen County, New Jersey, and they planned to turn around and drive home right after this event. The dedication of some of the parents I meet is amazing, as is their determination to make their kids lives better.

I sure hope whatever thoughts I had to offer were worth the ride. Families like those last night are really why I wrote Look Me in the Eye. I wanted to show people that Aspergian life does get better after childhood, and one can build a decent life as a grownup.
“Always remember you’re special,” I said.

I suggested some books last night. I’ll list them again here. First, I recommended Shyness, by Dr. Phil Zimbardo. Second, for recent insights into mirror neurons, which may be a key component of Asperger’s, I recommended Mirroring People, by Dr Marco Iacoboni. Finally, for insight into why male and female brains are different, I recommended The Female Brain by Dr Louann Brizendine

And of course I always recommend parents read Tony Attwood’s Asperger Syndrome and Temple Grandin’s stories. Her stories have a special relevance if you have or are a girl with Asperger’s or autism.

This evening I will be at the Barnes & Noble at Holyoke Crossing, also for Public Television. We’ll see what happens tonight.

I'm also guest blogger on http://www.thedebutanteball.com/ today, so stop by there if you have a chance.

Tomorrow I'll be at B&N's Hadley and Pittsfield stores as we conclude the WGBY Public Television weekend.

8 comments:

High Quality Mothering said...

I love your personableness that exudes in your writings.
Thanks for sharing your view of the book signing event.
http://learningaspergian.blogspot.com

Kelly K.

Kim Stagliano said...

John, it was VERY cool to see you at the Deb Ball!

Kim

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Michelle O'Neil said...

We're hoping Aspergians can not just get through chidhood but thrive!

You have done much to pave the way for a better understanding of our special kiddos, John.

Thanks for the book recommendations. I've read most of them but not the one on shyness.

Kanani said...

I'm sure it was very memorable for those parents, and especially for the woman who drove 3 hours.

Haven't checked out the Deb Ball. I've been up to my neck in ashes, smoke and cinder.

meagsb said...

Your story is fascinating and inspirational and offers a lot of insight into the workings of the aspergian mind that many parents can appreciate. And the work you're doing to further the understanding of autism is truly a gift to us. I hope that the future for my son (with high functioning autism) is half as bright as your life has been and that he can find his own way to contibute to the world. Thank you.

Megan B.

Carole M. said...

My son has Asperger's & ADHD and we were recently given your book on CD & have been listening to it together. What a thrill for him to hear of someone of similar interests and that someone like him is out there. You referenced Lawrenceville, GA in your book & we live near that town. Will you be speaking in the Atlanta, GA area anytime soon? Thanks, Carole M

bunchsky said...

Hi John, this is Deb Eve's mom, you know the one who rants sometimes, I just finished your book...wow, great read, moreso because it is true.

I found many of your "social commentary" points quite familiar to me, and I am what is known as "normal"...not if you ask my kids though.

I read your brothers book some years ago, again with keen interest. It please me sense of "healing" to think the two of you are there for each other.

Maybe some day we will meet when I visit Eve.