On Saturday, I gave my first scheduled speech at Toastmasters, and won the "Best Speaker" ribbon for the day as well as the raffle! What a great day! Plus I heard from Jimmy O, an old friend whom I lost touch with in 1999.
The three gentlemen I mention in my speech are all fantastic members of our very dynamic Toastmasters group. Please come and join us!
Here is the text of my speech, as I presented it (minus the standard Toastmasters greeting and closing.)
"Have any of you ever felt like an alien from another planet, who doesn't belong here and never quite fit in anywhere?
Have you ever felt as if life was a club whose members knew all the rules – but not you, and nobody ever bothered to clue you in on those expectations, even though they would be applied to you?
Welcome to my world.
Despite my loquacious nature, I actually did quite well in school until I entered a "gifted" program. This would have been the first clue to someone who was educated about the condition I have… but such professionals were few and far between, and frankly still are. Thus, instead of recognizing that I had learning disabilities in addition to my brilliance. (Pause for effect)
I was labeled lazy, and a chronic underachiever. Bully for me!
My ambitions and obsessions include various unrelated missions such as finding or developing realistic engines using clean, fuel-free magnetic power; informing people about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to marshal support for its elimination and prevention of its recurrence; and last but not least, helping other Autistic people like me.
Yes, I am Autistic. I've been diagnosed with a condition called Asperger's Syndrome. Because of this, I sometimes have great difficulty in processing information – so if I stutter, or smack myself in the head, it's because the words are "stuck" like candy in a vending machine, and I'm trying to get them to come out. If I'm terribly upset or excited, the words WON'T come out. In that case I must take a few deep breaths, (breathe) back off, slow down, and try again. When even this is not effective, I must sometimes write what I'm trying to say.
If you really want me to remember anything, write it down. That phrase, "in one ear and out the other" describes me in a nutshell. However, like many Autistic people, I think in pictures. If you give a speech that evokes imagery in my mind, I will remember it for years – perhaps for life. Dennard Mitchell recently gave a speech which used a story about a little monkey, and David Staples told me another one which used lions to make his point. A couple weeks ago, Leron Gabriel did a fantastic job of bringing the tale to life in his speech using a contrast between desperate refugees from a village and "keeping up with the Joneses." These stand out in my mind as shining and clever examples. Keep it up, boys!
In closing, I'd like to say that ultimately Autism is what led me to join Toastmasters. I am here to overcome communication difficulties, because I intend to become a public speaker and educate others about Autism and our developing culture.
By the way – if anybody here IS from my planet, would you please let me know? I might need a ride home."