I've been presenting at schools now for over five years and going back to the very first one I have to admit I wanted no part of it. Since then things have most certainly changed and I look forward to each and every school presentation with an eagerness that is hard to describe. Why? What led to such a 180? It's the questions students ask and this past Friday I was asked a question that in it's level of profoundness is still reverberating today.
The presentation was at Parkway West Middle and it's now a yearly tradition that I present to the 6th grade as it's been each school year since 2012 and it's awesome that the school sets an hour for this and it's an honor to be given that hour. Also, the questions I get asked by the 6th grade class always leaves me thinking and the final question on Friday, well, let me explain it.
First though, there's something neat about the final question because there just always happens to be something special about it. True, it's just random luck on the person I call on, but nine out of ten times the question is profound and on Friday I was asked, "In three words describe your life before diagnosis and in three words describe your life after." This, for you the reader right now, might seem a bit profound being asked by a sixth grader but that's the magic presenting to students because they are more than capable of stopping a person in their tracks and forcing them to think about things in a way never before thought of and not having much time to respond I came up with, "After my diagnosis I'd say it was 'life unfiltered realized' and before it would have to be 'life unfiltered oblivious' which I'm sure there's a grammar fail there but I never did get good grades in English class."
Had I had more time to craft a better response I might have, but even with the grammatical fail (although how can one state what I stated in just three words?) it states it with perfection because I had no idea about who I was and what was going on. Yes, it's hard to describe that in three words and I've tried to come up with three better words but I've been unable to. There's something that stretches thoughts when word usage gets reduced. I can blog as many times and as many words as possible and I can describe the joys, the pains, the anxiety, and the definition of Kansas in thousands of words if I want to, but that sixth grader put me to the ultimate test taking away my ability to describe things in detail which I commend him for because it made me think of this in a way I never had before and my ensuing response left me with a smile on my face.
It'll be another year before I'm back there. It's now one of my most frequented venues outside of the office or the police academy and there is such familiarity now with the library I present in while there. To the staff there I certainly want to thank them for the chance to give my presentation there because I feel, no, I know that presenting to students is the most important speaking crowd I can present to. The reasons are long and deep as to why I feel this, but to put shortly, but in more than three words, students of today are the coworkers, parents, teachers, and business owners of tomorrow and if not just autism awareness gets to them, but also autism understanding then the future is going to be so bright. And I've said this many times that all one has to do is hear the questions that students ask and you too will have the same hope for the future I do.