Esperanza speaks

Topic: “ASD in Me”

The phone call came in just after her nap.

Caller: “Would you come to our professional development seminar to share about your experiences living with ASD?”

Esperanza: “Well, sure.  When is that?”

A few weeks hence; there was plenty of time to prepare.  After all, this was about her life.  It was one of the attractions of this form of public speaking: no elaborate research involved.  Just locating memories.

After reviewing the presenter’s Power Point e-handout while considering personal examples to match their main points, Esperanza had a plan. She had to restrain herself from soliloquizing, willing herself to consider the listeners’ needs* and particular interests this day above her own joy in recounting stories.  Paring down her twenty pages of notes and short paragraphs of tips to just two pages in semi-outline form, she printed off a simplified version of her thoughts two days before the seminar.

And, left them on the printer.

The dressing process was simplified by the “uniform” E had adopted a few years back, in answer to her question, “Why not select for yourself a basic uniform, resembling men’s “shirt and pants” routine?”  Comfy goes-with-everything black pants (heavier weight in the winter; lighter in the summer) and a few colorful cotton T’s, set off by fabulous scarves?  Comfy shoes.  Done.

E placed her bags in the trunk of the pretty blue compact — four bags today [one bag for lunch and snacks; one for notes; one for the knitting project and her slippers.  And one that would be considered a “purse” ] and headed out.

The drive wasn’t so far that she couldn’t have gone back home to retrieve the final draft of her notes, but she decided, nesting at a table two presentation team members had set up for her in the back of the presentation room, that she would be fine.  She spread out her notes, assembled her pencils and markers and opened the seminar packet.  Having changed from her snow boots into her Haflinger’s she propped her feet on an extra chair, picked up her knitting needles and began casting on stitches of the bulky green and blue yarn for an infinity scarf.

As the day-long seminar began, information flowed. It was a relatively small gathering of educators, but a significant amount of preparation had clearly preceded this event.  Three different presenters took turns working from the Power Point.  E’s friend Sam was guest speaker in the morning slot. He spoke from his own Power Point presentation.  Esperanza, realizing by now that she did not have her notes , decided to wing it, counting on her natural inclination toward mild theatrics to carry her message.

The time rolled along, and by 2:30, it was Esperanza’s turn.  The audience was restless.  It had been a long day of sitting and listening.

Because she had noticed participants chatting during other presenter’s talking times, Esperanza opened her remarks with a stern admonition: “Please do not talk while I’m talking!  Thank you.”

So, what did she say?

She told them about some of the the things she notices, living with ASD-  What do I notice?

She spoke about trauma-  What do you mean “trauma?”

Other presentation excepts to follow here,  as the pages are developed.  Please come back if you’re interested!

*One topic to research on your own is called theory of mind or “mindblindness,” (Simon Baron-Cohen) which has been described as the inability to perceive other people’s point of view.  Or, sometimes, to even realize that there is a point of view other than one’s own. Thus, it was a very purposeful,  learned, internal check-list thing for Esperanza to choose to consider the listeners’ perspective and then to take time to try to imagine what that might be.  In this case, she asked some of her trusted NT (neuro-typical) reference people to help her with perspective as she prepared her talk.