Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hammer's Talk for Autism Awareness Month


Hammer is going to speak tonight at his Boy Scout Troop meeting.  I am printing his talk here for you all, but it loses something, because Hammer actually ad libs when he presents it... he has practiced it twice, and it has amazed me each time! 


He is a really good public speaker!  Not something that Aspies usually do well at, so this was a pleasant surprise! 

***  UPDATE: 10pm  Hammer did his speech for his troop and it went fabulous!  He received a standing ovation!


April is Autism Awareness Month.  Mr. Trapp has asked me to speak tonight because I have a form of high functioning autism called Asperger’s Syndrome.


There are many different degrees of autism.  Think of the spectrum of colors.  At the far left you have yellow, and that would be like Asperger’s and other high functioning forms, and all the way on the right you have the deepest darkest purples, and that would be like Kanner’s Autism, so severe that you cannot speak, communicate or be touched.


Autistics have their own way of thinking.  They are often misjudged by those of you who are neuro-typical, we don’t say ‘normal’ because everyone has their own ‘normal’.  Neuro-typical is how all of you without autism think.


Autistics think differently which does not mean it is inferior. And, thinking differently is not the same as thinking different things.  It means that our brains are wired to process and react to information and stimulation around us in a very unique way.  The best thing that you can do is remember that anyone with autism is not being different to be ‘difficult’, it is just how we are.


Autistics and Aspies, like me, get overloaded by things that other people hardly notice, and each of us has our own set of sensitivities.  In order to cope with overload we have to allow for ‘down time’ and time to ‘decompress’.


For example, I have some sensitivities.  Sometimes noise can really be painful and difficult for me to handle.  I often will use soft ear plugs that dull the noise and help me cope. 

I also have a problem with bright lights.  Sometimes I have problems with tactile things too.  I can be bumped gently and have it feel like I was tackled.  Other times, I can bang a part of me and not even notice. 


My pain scale is all messed up, too.  I have a hard time recognizing internal body pain, like stomach aches, and ear infections, until they are super bad.  I broke my nose once, and when the doctor snapped the bone back into place with a metal rod, I never stopped talking to him about Star Wars.  He was amazed because most grown up people, men and women scream, and some even pass out! 


I also have something called dysgraphia which makes it painful to hold pens and pencils for a long time.  I do a lot of my school work orally because of that.  I also like computers better, buteven that can be stressful after a while.

I am also particular about my foods.  I don’t like the different things on my plates to touch.  I am pretty lucky though, some kids and adult Autistics only eat white foods, like Larry on the show Numbers, or only eat 2 or 3 things ever for their whole lives!


One of the most difficult situations for Aspies and Autistics are social occasions.   Groucho Marx once said, “I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it.”  This illustrates how many of us feel.  I love being with people, but it can be really hard when they don’t get me.  I am pretty sensitive and can easily have my feelings hurt.  Once people understand where I am coming from, then we usually get along fine!  Chit chat can be tough, but if you come to me and ask me about things I like, we can really have a great conversation! 


Autistics and Aspies often have tics or do repetitive things called, ‘stimming’.  It isn’t meant to be annoying to everyone around us, but sometimes it may seem that way.  Some kids and adults may rock, flap, tap, sway, pace, hum, make weird sounds, stare at walls, etc.  These behaviors are calming for us as we are being bombarded by all the things that you neuro-typical people never even notice.


You may have noticed my tics.  Sometimes I will make a strange noise, or rub my face.  No big deal.  Just ignore it! 


Many Aspies, like myself, and other high functioning Autistics are very smart, but not all of us.  Usually, our smarts or genius is in one or two specific areas, and we struggle with others.  However, all of us here on the Autistic Spectrum are exploring alternate realities with our different thinking and brain functions. 

This can lead to great creativity and inventiveness.  Many studies now believe that Albert Einstein had Asperger’s Syndrome.  He certainly did look at the world of physics in a different way in his time, no one can debate that fact.


Other famous people who have admitted to being on the Autistic Spectrum, or who are now thought to have been after researching their lives using the definitions of Autism, are Bill Gates, Marie Curie, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, Orson Welles, Mozart, Carl Sagun, and there are more. 


There are a lot of great books out there to read about Asperger’s and Autism.  My mom has a bunch and she is always willing to loan them out.  Some are made especially for kids, and some for adults.  Just ask me about them.


Well, I hope this was interesting for all of you.  I will take any questions you might want to ask me now.  First though, I am going to ask my brother, Fuzzy, to come up and help me.  You see, I will answer you from my point of view, but Alex may have more to add, since he is my neuro-typical brother living with me and Asperger's each day.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and maybe learned something you didn't know!  If you have any questions,please ask, and Hammer and I will answer them!

be well,



tenyearnap said...

This is awesome. How is Asperger's "diagnosed"? Do people get often misdiagnosed with other syndromes/learning disabilities? --Cin

rdautumnsage said...

Cin had an interesting point. Other than that this was a terrific read. I definately learned some things I admit I really had no clue about. Makes you stop and think about how you look at people and what is truly going on with them. Tell Hammer he did an awesome job I was definately impressed. Give him a hug from me for a job well done!! ((Hugs)) Indigo

sunnyside46 said...

I really like the point of view, not saying that Asberger's is a handicap, jsut a different way of processing.
What exceptional young men...both of them.

dwhee70041 said...

What a great presentation.  As a lifelong Scout and a current leader, I wish I could be there the hear him give the presentation.

cacklinrosie101 said...

Bravo to Hammer!  A really good friend of mine has a son who is in the middle of the austism spectrum but is becoming more functional as time goes on.  What a wonderful son you have, Dawn.  He has done more to educate us about Aspergers and Autism than any book or program I've seen.  HUGS  Chris

topazscorpio27 said...

Way to go,Hammer! I hope the speech goes well for you!  I know that I use to have to give speeches in front of groups and it's harder than anything else. I use to break out in this yucky rash hours before the speech and it didn't clear up for a week after I gave it.  Plus, a while back I gave a speech about Halloween, and my nephew, and totally forgot to mention what he dressed up as!  You rock, Kid!

justplainbill said...

Dawn, you can be very proud of this young man. Hammer I am sure you will give a great speech tonight. Good Luck to you and give Mom a hug from me. Bill

monponsett said...

Fuc**n proud.

thebaabee said...

You definitely have the right to be proud of this young man.  I am.  Lu

jckfrstross said...

Bravo!!! can i ask a question? Hammer how hard has it been for you to join the boy scouts? i know you are super smart and love star wars which one the first 3 that came out in the 70s or the last 3 are the best? and why? i will give my answer in email ok thanks


swibirun said...

That is AMAZING!  He kicked arse on that.  Most adults could not put themselves across so eloquently.  Hug that kid for me and tell him yet once again, how proud everyone is of him!

coelha said...

Very cool Dawn!!  What a proud mom you must be!!!  Yeah Hammer!!  I learned a lot from that speech!!  VERY, VERY COOL :)  Julie

deshelestraci said...

That's a great speech!  My daughter's friend is an Aspie.  He loves Emma but has a tough time actually spending time with her.  I noticed a lot of his behaviors described.

nana0014 said...

WOW!! You must be very proud. How wonderful of him to get up and explain to others who might not get it. Thanks for sharing with us.
Take care, Chrissie

gehi6 said...

No wonder you are so proud of him.  This was an amazing speech, simply amazing.  I enjoyed it a lot, and thank you for inviting us especially to come and read.  I would loved to have heard him give it.  Gerry

toonguykc said...

BRAVO!!!  He's not my child, but I feel like a proud dad all the sudden.


sdoscher458 said...

That was wonderful.  The way that was put together was college level...way to go
Hammer!  He taught me some stuff that I didn't know, tell him thank you from me...Dawn you have every right to be proud of a great kid....Sandi

nzforme said...

What a great speech!  Thank you for sharing it.

jibaro6543 said...

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING........ give him a hug from me.... what a great kid you have there!!!!!! His essay really touched my heart!

cmarlow330 said...

WOW.... that is so amazing coming from, how old is your son?

Thzt is just simply amazing and totally opened my eyes up to this disease.

Our realitor her son has um... I cant think of what it is called its where they have fits if you move things around like in the house or whatever bc they have to see things ONE WAY or they totally throw a fit...

I must say congradulations to your son for a outstanding essay!

* claps *

Take Care,

eml625 said...

Applauding from New York !!! Bravo. He sounds like such a wonderful, funny, intelligant young man. You should be proud Mama!!!!

ksgal3133 said...

Way to go Hammer!! He did a wonderful job! It is so hard to get up and speak in front of people so I applaud that as well :)


hsauls said...

I copied this to my journal! So proud of Hammer for NAILING this topic. *giggle* It's perfect... I'll have Austin read it...

fisherkristina said...

Beautififul.  You must be so proud.

Krissy com/fisherkristina/SometimesIThink  

nhd106 said...

I read this over at Heather's was amazingly fantastic!    I have an autistic niece whom I just adore.   You should be very proud of your son.  Thanks for sharing this with us!

dcmeyer420 said...

Bravo, Hammer! Yes, I learned a lot by reading your speech. Thank you for being so thorough. Hugs. Dee

dondieroy said...

Heather sent me over to read this entry.  Wow.. very interesting.  You must be so proud of Hammer ( great name)..  
take care,

klconard1 said...

Wow what a wonderful talk!  No wonder you are proud of Hammer!
loving you

ladyhasflava said...

Awesome..Its amazing the power a person possible inside...Go Hammer! ~FLAVA~

Author of "If God Is My Lover..Why Is My Bed So Cold?

mrsm711 said...

That is an amazing speech.  I learned alot from reading this entry.  Tell Hammer he did a great job and thanks for sharing this with us.  :)      Tracy

nightmaremom said...

Awesome!!  Great job... and you have every right to be proud!

gazker said...

Oh blimey Dawn, you must be SO proud. Reading that I learnt so much, if I had seen him give that speech, I would have cracked as I would have been so proud if I were you. Keep well.
Gaz xx

mmartinez07 said...

Oh Dawn, his speech made me cry! He is such an amazing young man! You have every reason to be proud! Give him a high 5 and a hug from me and thank him for helping us understand :) Love ya!

Hugs, Mandy ~

ceilisundancer said...

Oh, I'm SO glad you wrote this in here!  I'm struggling to comprehend this all more myself.  I have a video in my journal (by Five for Fighting) that they say click on it and watch and it'll help raise money and awareness, etc.   I am going to add a link to this post of yours:)   Thank you and yes, it can be a gift, too, being typical could start being a bit boring, yes? -- Robin

helmswondermom said...

Very good job!!! Thank you for sharing this with us!

lindaggeorge said...

What a wonderful explanation, very helpful to me in my work.

Linda x.

wildautumn1 said...

My son has Asperger's syndrome. Sometimes it breaks my heart when I see him out in the world and other times I am amazed at what he can do. It hardly seems to bother him. Hammer, I hope you don't mind, but I copied your speech. One copy I am going to put in a special journal that I keep and another copy I am going to sit down & share with my son & his sister. You are a gift.

caromarls said...

What a wonderful essay!  This young man has himself more together than most neuro-typical children!  He knows who he is and where he is coming from, as well as where he is going.  I think that due to his Aspergers, he is more sensitive to others and their needs - something more children need to be aware of. Standing ovation for his essay!! It helped me understand more about Asperger's!  ~  Caroline  ~

lurkynat said...

Dear Dawn
i cansee how proud youare! Tremendous!

artloner said...

Sorry so late commenting on this.  I know you are always so proud of that child!!!!

I'm passing this on to a very good friend & neighbor who's struggling with this.  I want him to have hope that his boy will have a good life.  He worries.




sunnyside46 said...

very well done, Hammer!