I hope you don’t mind if I indulge in some Shameless Self-Promotion this week…
OK, it’s more like Shameless SON Promotion, but I want to tell you about my son Alexander* and a project he’s been working on.
If you’ve only known him as an adult, you might think of him as a brilliant, dynamic, outgoing, and talented young man (and really good-looking too! says his mother) with a powerful presence and an amazing bass-baritone voice. But if you’ve known him since his childhood years, you might remember him differently.
Early on, we noticed that Alex found it extremely difficult to make friends. He did okay with adults, but he had trouble relating to his peers. He was a sad and lonely kid, and we couldn’t figure out why. He also tended to get obsessed with certain interests – dinosaurs, for example – and become an expert on the subject at a very young age. By first grade, he was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder (inattentive type), but that still didn’t account for his problems with social skills.
We’d never heard of Asperger syndrome back then (now they officially call it High-Functioning Autism), and it wasn’t until a few years later when our daughter had the same symptoms that we learned about it. It’s a disability that often makes it difficult for people to interact socially with others and function in the world. Though it’s usually accompanied by above-average intelligence, the social disabilities can be terribly limiting, making it hard to succeed in school or in the workplace.
When Alex went away to college, he didn’t adjust well to leaving the protective cocoon of our family and his small, nurturing private high school. Within a month or two, he had a major depressive episode and didn’t leave his dorm for weeks, sleeping around the clock, barely eating, and nearly flunking out of school.
He says that was when the light bulb went on, and he realized “I don’t want to live like this any more.” He made the decision to reinvent himself, to become the person he wanted to be and create the life that he wanted to live. So he studied psychology, body language (HFA people often have trouble picking up on voice or body language social cues), and speaking technique. Though it was very challenging at first, he practiced making eye contact and deliberately put himself in social situations where he would have to converse with strangers.
Today, he’s a dynamic speaker and writer, performing mentalist, “nerd culture maven” (check out his YouTube channel), voice artist, and certified memory expert. He’s always up for meeting new people and has a wide network of friends and colleagues around the world. Needless to say, we’re very proud of him!
Because he’s had such success with his own personal reinvention, we suggested he share what he has learned so others on the autism spectrum can benefit. Alex has just released a short video course on Udemy with strategies to help people with Asperger/High-Functioning Autism develop better social skills. More videos are in the planning stages.
So here’s where the Shameless Son Promotion part comes in: If you or someone you care about struggles with social interactions due to High-Functioning Autism/Asperger syndrome, check out Alex’s first Udemy mini-course, Social Spectrum. You can access the video at www.udemy.com/social-spectrum. In fact, he’s offering a launch special of $10 (50% off the regular price) until the end of May. Just enter the coupon code “debut”
* In case you were wondering who “Alexander Vornoff” is, that’s his stage name.