As many of you all know, I got the privilege to speak at a Autism Even last night titled, Autism and Employability. Besides speaking in class about particular subject topics, it was my first time in front of complete strangers talking about my story. I was thinking at the most twenty to thirty people attending. Turned out to what seemed to be over forty people, so many there was almost not enough standing room in the designed room for the talk. Even before seeing this amount of people I had been on nerves end since the previous night at around midnight when someone in my complex closed/opened a door quite violently and thus ruined any chances of me entering REM sleep. I got to the event early to try to mentally prepare but my socks where already soaked from the drive over. As time got closer to the event, I felt myself start to pace and fidget, something I have not done in a while. I am also sure I twirled a few times without noticing it as well. Eye contact probably was horrible, but I could not have cared less.
When it was time for me to speak, I started to forget everything I had practiced. Within my first sentence I had to restart, not a very good confidence builder. I continuously tried to scan the crowd every few seconds, but every time I did I found myself forgetting where I was in my speech. At times, it felt like I was up there forever, when in fact it was short due to leaving out some information. After I was done, the audience gave me a huge applause which was greatly appreciated but I felt like just getting out of there to get my mind right.
Turns out that my speech was a huge hit. During the question portion of the night numerous people had comments on how much my speech touched them and helped them have hope for their little ones. This made all the wet socks and pit sweat worth it. That just standing up and telling my story to people in public helped them. It also reminds me why I keep on pushing my own barriers. That is to help others that have been diagnosed after me to see that the diagnosis is not the end point in ones life, but only the beginning.
Once the event came to an end, I got the opportunity to be interviewed by a television company. I was still so wound up by the event that I do not remember exactly when it will be aired lol. This was easier than the event, even though I had to restart on the first answer I gave.
Overall this was a great experience for me and my company. Thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the people at the event.
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum