For those who wonder what people ask me at these talks

People online ask me about the kind of questions I'm asked at my speaking engagements. A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to speak to Google through their video conference network, and they've made a full 1-hour talk and q&a available on authors@Google.

In this video you can see and hear the whole thing including questions from Aspergians, geeks, teachers, parents, mental health people, and others (whatever other may be.)

Thanks to all the folks at Google's Boulder offices for putting this together.

While we're on the subject of Google . . . I am working with a product called Sketchup that allows people to create 3-D shapes and manipulate them. I will have a separate story on that soon.


... said…

I just wanted to let you know that I sat and watched the WHOLE 55 minute video and I have got to tell you, seeing you up there be an advocate for people like us is truly enlightening. You are doing what so many of us needed growing up suffering with these things that no one had any idea about. I cried several times (just the way I did when I read your book) at how you spoke of your own feelings of failure and loneliness. Too many times that was the story for my own life and the life of countless others. But your words, your time, your effort....they are all paving the way to "tolerance" as you say, and compassion not only for those on the "Autism Spectrum", but just the whole spectrum of human emotion. I wish you well on your journey. (And I still hope you watch Donnie Darko sometime! Ha!)

Also, in that last bit of the video when you spoke of those on the spectrum seeking out those with emotional intelligence....

I think that can be yet another aspiring journey that we can teach to the communities of today's youth, because I think it's important for EVERYONE to have as much emotional compassion for others as possible, especially for those on the spectrum. My son has an INTENSE interest for vacuums, but like you said, girls his age want nothing to do with a guy like him. But when he's thirty something and has managed to acheive a multi-millionaire vacuum afficionado corporation (hey, we can all dream big, can't we??), these same ladies won't be singing the same song, will they?

So if we can teach today's youth that it's okay to be different and encourage it in our children in this generation(which I am doing with my own), then maybe we can have hope that those on the spectrum will be further embraced by society as a whole.
Henrik_Sundholm said…
"Back in the 1960s, autism was really only diagnosed if you were really disabled, and it was like, you know, it was a very bad thing, because you were sent to a state school..."

This quote is just simply briliant. The worst thing about autism, was being sent to a state school! *shrugs*

China said…
I am so glad you posted this video. It was great to see you "in person". You are such an engaging and wonderful speaker. Everything you said was so helpful and clarifying. I related to your stories in your book too even though I am not an Aspergian or Austistic. I was just the smart, new girl who moved too often and was too shy to develop good social skills. I can relate to much of what my son is going through, but you clarified some things like reasons for his wariness and anxiety, helping him gain knowledge as a priority, matching him with those of emotional intelligence, etc. Thank you.
I was also glad to hear advice to a 10 year old, since my son is 9.

China (
Polly Kahl said…
Hi John, I'm looking forward to seeing this video. You're such a great - and natural - speaker. The Sketchup thingy sounds really cool too. I wonder if I'd be able to use that for desgining garments. It would be so helpful to be able to turn them around and see them from all sides with software.
John Robison said…
Henrik, since you are in another country, you may have misinterpreted that comment about a school.

Those places they called "schools" were not schools at all. They were essentially jails for people who were deemed too low functioning for public school. Often, you never got out.

Most of them are closed now. Here is a quote from CBS news about that situation:

"One of the deep, dark secrets of America's past has finally come to light. Starting in the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of American children were warehoused in institutions by state governments. And the federal government did nothing to stop it.

The justification? The kids had been labeled feeble-minded, and were put away in conditions that can only be described as unspeakable. "

Here is the whole CBS story:
Polly Kahl said…
Wow John, it's amazing how animated and expressive you are in that video. You've come a long way big fella! Keep up the great work. It is appreciated.
Henrik_Sundholm said…
John: I know. I just thought it could be made into a pun. I have a thing for those :p
TheOracle said…
I am amazed at what you have been able to do. I still look at people like I am in a foreign world. I still remember my family saying, "The stork must have dropped you at the wrong house."

I hope to be able to read your book someday but have followed interviews and such. You have become a mentor for me and helped me get out of my own isolation.

I still find it hard to follow a conversation when looking someone in the eye. Thanks for helping me to know that we are not alone... just different... "don't look at people, don't have manners, don't say the expected things... that was me."

You give me the resolve to change my life. As I listen to your lecture at Google, I wonder if I could find a way.

Maureen Nelson

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