Once again this past Friday I had the honor of presenting in a school and once again the entire 100 minutes was filled and the questions were amazing. Often times, when I am talking to someone that doesn't understand what I do, or what the benefit is in me presenting to students, I tell them the questions that I've been asked. I love the look on their face when they try to understand that 6th graders are asking such spot on questions. I think students of any grade are never given the credit they deserve so here's a list of questions that I've been asked along the way. At some point in time I should do a month's worth of blogs to these questions, but for now I'm just going to share some of the questions that I've been asked from students aged 5th grade to seniors in high school...
Are seizures common with autism?
Is there any research in scanning the brain to see if the people on the autism spectrum think differently?
What's your take of Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory?
Do you get sad when people made or make fun of you?
Why are people with Asperger's so dang smart?
I'm visiting my aunt who has autism, what can I do to make her more comfortable?
Does autism run in families?
My 9 year old brother has Asperger's and he gets very upset anytime something doesn't go according to plan or goes his way; why is this?
Are the rates of autism going up because doctors are being better educated?
Are you happy having Asperger's
Would you take a cure if one were made?
Can being hyper-sensitive to your surroundings sometimes be a good thing?
Are vaccines the cause?
This one was last week by a 6th grader I heard in the DSM-V that the name Asperger's is going away. What's your opinion on this?
If there isn't a cure what is there?
This one was from a sharp high school senior in Chesterton, Indiana and the only one to ever ask this, Okay, you have an associative memory system so does this mean you have things linked to Emily?
Can Kansas change over a lifetime?
How can I better react to my classmates that have Asperger's?
Wow, I'm now drawing a blank on the rest of the questions, but I think the point has been made. These amazing questions come about after just hearing me speak for about 20 minutes. Anytime a school says that they aren't interested in a presentation I wish I could throw this list of questions their way. The telling thing for me, and I just started doing this two weeks ago, is when someone asks a question directly, or it's a question I can use the stat with, on, "how many people have autism" I give the stats going back to 1980 to today and then I ask, "Okay, how many people here knows someone or knows someone that knows someone that is on the autism spectrum?" Each time I have done this in my 8 school presentations the past two weeks I've had at least 50% of the students raise their hands and in my past two presentations it's been over 75%.
From the depth of their questions this is something that they do want to know more about. Statistically, each and every student will encounter a person on the autism spectrum in their lifetime and if they have a classmate that has it, well, the need is even greater.
I know I've said this many times, but I don't think there is anything I've done in my life more important than these school presentations. I am so thankful to each school that has taken the time out of their day to let me present. My presentations may be an hour or two, but what these questions have shown me is that the impact from just that hour may just prove to be something that is with these students for the rest of their lives.