Alex Plank is a filmmaker with Asperger's syndrome and the founder of Wrong Planet. He recently gave this presentation at the Speak Up and Speak Out Summit, an Illinois gathering of self-advocates with various disabilities.
Alex is currently working on a documentary about the autism in France called Shameful, and he shows the trailer for it and two episodes of his YouTube series Autism Talk TV. One is about how to flirt and the other is an interview with actors from the NBC show Parenthood.
Watch Alex Plank learn how to flirt and ask someone out on a date in the first episode of a news series from Autism Talk TV that will focus on social skills for people with Asperger's syndrome. Alex gets some advice from Dr. Liz Laugeson of UCLA's PEERS Program, then puts it into practice with "a real girl." Cute and the advice is good.
I was always different, and my parents always sort of knew that, but they didn't have the diagnosis, so what they did was try to find out what was going on with me. And at least initially, they thought I merely had ADHD or something similar. But when I was nine, I actually did get the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. And that was when I found out about autism.
When I was a teenager, I really wanted to find other people like me; I had a hard time finding friends in middle school, and [had] a lot of [Asperger's] traits. I was obsessive. I was a prolific contributor to Wikipedia; I edited more than 10,000 articles. I was also an official developer for the Gentoo Linux project. Needless to say, that isn't typical behavior for a teenager.
I started Wrong Planet in 2004 with my friend Dan Grover because I wanted to find other people like me who were on the autism spectrum. I didn't know anyone else with autism until I went on the Internet, but it was hard to find anyone with the same interests.
My first computer was a Mac Plus that the school just gave to me for free because they thought it didn't work. But I figured out how to turn it on reliably--you just had to kick it.
Alex Plank asked me to share with you the first column that Nanna Juul Lanng has written for Wrong Planet. Nanna is a young autistic woman from Denmark with some very interesting things to say:
As most people believe, I am also confident that people on the spectrum of autism have “always” been around. As the majority of you also know we're wired a little differently than the average man/woman. Unlike them, we are not born with all of the social skills that society has come to expect from us all. Most of us have a social drive; we crave attention just like anyone else, we want to be accepted, to be approved of and loved, but not always in the same amount and quite often not in the same way as them. Also some of us only crave that second word: acceptance, and then ask for nothing more than to be left in peace. This is not an article for the latter.
In order to do well in the world and in society, if that is what we wish to do, we attempt to adapt, we do our best to crack the code that no one seems to speak of but everybody knows, often with limited results. I was diagnosed two years ago, when I had just turned 19, and it thrilled me to know, that I was not alone in this struggle, even more-so to find people with ASD who'd done a lot better than I. But I also met a lot of people on the spectrum, afterwards, some even younger than me, who had already grown bitter from the constant battles and all the defeats in this social human world. I am not saying, that I can “fix” anyone, I can't. If I had such an ability, I would have “fixed” myself long ago (I need better word for that) , and you'd see me hanging out at trendy clubs talking to very interesting and important people, luring them all in with my amazing skills. I'd be out catching great friends, like Ash catches pokemons... Which I'm not. However I have improved a lot, I can make friends, I can attract people, I am now able to benefit from social interaction, I can get people to listen most of the time, and if you're interested, I would like to share those techniques and tips which have worked for me.
Alex Plank talks to the cast of Parenthood.
As Alex Plank's Autism Talk TV has become more and more a publicity vehicle for Autism Speaks, it has become less and less interesting to me, and I have posted the videos less frequently. In this one, he talks to members of the cast of NBC's Parenthood. Jason Ritter's comments about how realistic and educational the show is are a little scary. The most interesting moments come from Sarah Ramos, who plays Haddie. She acknowledges that the cast was confused by Asperger's syndrome in the first season, but that things have gotten easier for them with more knowledge and experience. She also says that what she knew about Aspergers before being on the series came from reading Augusten Burroughs' essay about his brother, and Alex explains that he knows Augusten and used to live with that brother-- John Elder Robison.
It's a small world at the Hollywood Autism Speaks walk.