I'm on day three on the tour and I've already met so many people and have heard so many stories, but so far there is one moment that has stuck out more than any other. This was from a school presentation and involved a story I tell that happened to a police officer.
The story involves an incident where a police officer pulled over an 18 year old with Asperger's and the officer asked, "Sir, can I see your licesne?" to which the person with Asperger's flatly said, "No." The incident kept going and eventually the individual was arrested. The problem that happened, of course, was the literal mind; think about it! If you think literally and someone asks you, "Can I see your license?" this is a yes or no answer. Understanding the implications of the question is something that a person on the autism spectrum may not see and whereas most people would understand this is a directive and not a question, but for some of us on the autism spectrum we may not see that.
Now how is that story relevant? I use this story when I present to almost everyone now whether it's to universities, parents, teachers, or even students. One thing, and I've written this before, that is so magical about my presentation to students are the questions and answers segment. One of the first question I took the other day, from a middle-schooler, was, "What would have happened if the officer would have worded it differently such as 'May I see your license?' or 'Could you hand me your license?'" I wish you could have seen my face at that moment because, if someone would have asked what the officer could have done, I would have given this answer the student gave.
And all of this is why speaking to students is so important. The ability to understand is there and from understanding comes the foundation for hope. In just hearing me for 20 minutes this student was able to understand how better to interact with someone on the spectrum and was able to give the perfect answer as to how the officer could have better worded the question.
My tour moves forward tomorrow with a stop in Milwaukee and I'm looking forward to more and more of these types of moments.