Mary Robison, Alex Plank, Jack Robison, Kirsten Lindsmith
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.