Recently I wrote about the talk Anna and I gave to a graduate class at UT-Dallas. The professor sent us a thank you note and comments from different students that “were taken from the final assignments of the students in Atypical Development. Their task was to think over the past semester and write about the topic that was most interesting to them.” Several chose our talk.
“…the guest speakers covered the material which is not available from lectures and readings. …they validated the relevance of the class content.”
“I especially got a lot out of the talk with Anna and Troy about their journey with autism. It was an important reminder that this childhood disorder not only effects [sic] the child, but the family that raises them.”
“I am also grateful for Troy’s firsthand explanation of why some of the actions of individuals with Autism are socially awkward. I appreciated his detailed description of the difficulty he had with short term/working memory and how it causes him to have a sense of urgency with revealing mundane details in fear he might forget them. His anxiety that tidbits of information never spoken are destined to be forgotten in conjunction with his natural inability to understand social cues gives great insight to the stressful inner workings of an autistic brain. The linearity of his thoughts and need for clear explanations of how to handle specific social situations shows the great difficulty that those on the autism spectrum face and the stresses they go through for everyday social interactions.”
“I also greatly appreciated Anna’s open discourse on what she faced as the mother of a newly diagnosed autistic child, and later, the wife of an autistic man. Her strength was shown through her open discourse with Troy on social matters and her ability to help guide him and her child while still caring for other children in her family.”
“I have spent a while pondering on Troy’s comments about how autism can be looked at as a different personality type and not necessarily a disorder and that society as a whole can share in finding solutions for social inclusiveness with those with these types of disorders, rather than putting the entire burden on the affected individual to conform to preconceived societal norms”
“I really enjoyed the guest speakers, Troy and Anna, who came ans spoke to us last class. I found it very interesting to hear a first-hand account from an adult who has Asperger’s Syndrome and hear about the unique experiences in his life. Troy and Anna also have the exceptional perspective of dealing with two types of autism within one family (Troy and their son, Daniel). I could relate to Anna saying that she had to be very literal with Troy. (after an undergraduate practicum working with young adults with Aspergers.)
“The family that came to our class to speak about their day-to-day life dealing with their autistic son really brought together all of the concepts we learned about autism this semester. Getting to hear about the family’s personal lives truly illuminated what happens beyond the exam room.”
“I really liked that the husband and wife were very open and able to answer any and all of the questions that we asked. …in addition, both the husband and wife expressed how the father was able to interact with their son in his own way. …I found it deeply eye opening that the father said he appreciated that his parents did not attempt to prevent or break his atypical behaviors. I absolutely loved that he mentioned his unique view of combining the strengths associated with autism and the strengths associated with neurotypical individuals into something spectacular in kids and adults that have autism.”
We’re very happy the students seemed to get so much out of our two hour talk and Q&A. The great thing is that we can talk about autism from so many perspectives. As a mother (Anna), as a father (me), and as a spouse (Anna), from the outside (Anna) and from the inside (me), both personally and from a scientific standpoint. This may be a unique set of perspectives. I manage to take the scientific information and put it into a personal perspective and use it to explain our thinking and actions. This group, at least, seemed to respond quite well to it.