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Introducing Autism Talk TV

This is a guest post by Alex Plank, an autistic adult who founded the online community Wrong Planet. Alex is a graduate of George Mason University. (*Editor’s note: Autism Speaks typically uses person-first language. Alex prefers the term “autistic adult” to describe himself.)

After years of wondering why I was different from the other children, I was finally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of nine. I tried to find other people like me on the Internet, but was disappointed at the resources available for connecting to other individuals with autism.

Consequently, I decided to create an online community for people with autism. I was living at my grandparents’ house at the time and they didn’t have internet access, so I had to ride my bike to the library just to work on developing the site. Since I started Wrong Planet, more than 37,000 people have registered as members.We get around two million page views per month.

I graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in Film and Video Studies. My senior project was a documentary on autism. One thing I have always wanted to do is create a TV show about autism.

Autism Talk TV is a new online television show with the goal of spreading awareness and educating the public about autism. I created this television show because there really wasn’t anything like it in existence. Autism Talk TV will  provide in-depth coverage of all issues relating to autism. Jack Robison (John Elder Robison’s son) and I attend autism conferences around the country and document people’s stories in crisp high-definition video, which I then edit into seven-to-10 minute segments.

I am continually impressed by the diversity of the autism community. Autism Talk TV gives a unique look into the varied lives of individuals related to autism and provides insight for those of us already living with autism.

Autism Speaks and WrongPlanet.net have graciously agreed to sponsor Autism Talk TV and we hope this partnership will help our show to reach as many people as possible.

Here is the latest episode of Autism Talk TV, which features an interview with Wired magazine writer Steve Silberman, who wrote a very popular article called “The Geek Syndrome,” which chronicled the rise of autism in Silicon Valley. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Check out Wrong Planet’s YouTube channel, where Autism Talk TV is hosted.


  1. Michelle Cruz
    July 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    To whom it may concern,
    I am a single mother of 2. My son has been diagnosed with autism. I have been going through a custody battle for 3 years.
    I worked and took care of my children alone for the first 5 years. My son is now 8 and my daughter is 10.
    My exhusband really worked the system! He did not want to pay child support, and had told me that if i try to collect with the da that he would quit his job.
    He in facted did so. He works under the table and has collected unemployment. Then filed for custody. He had money for an attorney and i didnt.
    I recently lost physical custody of my children. The Judge here in Reno, NV said that because i could not make the ot therepy that my ex had set for my son every friday( that would mean i could only work 3 hours on friday’s) because i had a full-time job that i was not responsible for my autistic son. I had got my son in all the programs that were offered. Ot was part of his program at school.
    My ex did notabide by the Joint Physical Custody law that we were to discuss medical issues. If that had happend, we could have picked a time that i was able to take my son on my visitation.( I was the primary custodial parant) nothing was discussed with me. Appointments were made by my ex without my knowledge and expected of me to drop my job on his terms. My ex now has physical custody. Awarded child support on top of unemployment, working under the table. Special service funds for my son’s needs and the SSI i was recieving was awarded by the judge. I have a great relationship with my kids! This is very very hard on them and myself! The judge disregarding the fact of the physical abuse i had suffered from this man in the past. I have had 2 restraining orders due to his abuse. I have been in contact with CPS with complaints from myself and statements from my daughter as she is the only verbal advociate for her and her brother. The Judge once again disregarded my daughters concerns and complaints against her father and denied her a court appointed counsler or advocate.
    There is so many fouls in this case that the Judge has turned her cheek to.
    My son being autistic and only get to see his mom every OTHER weekend and every OTHER wed for only 2 hours! She said that my son need to have a rutine. This is devastating to him and thinks that he is with his dad because he is bad! He tells me he is sorry everytime i have to drop him off!

  2. Jessica
    July 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Although it may be suprising to see WP partnering with Autism Speaks, if it’s for a project that’s creating greater understanding about ASD, it’s a good thing. I hope you use this show as an opportunity to dispel some of the common myths about life with ASD and to raise awareness about some of the sub-populations within the autistic adult community who are especially underserved.

    In particular, I would love to see focus on females on the Spectrum and those without the financial resources to seek an ‘official’ diagnosis, which bars them from being eligible for the support services they desperately need. I’m a social worker who happens to be diagnosed with ASD and it both saddens and angers me to see so many autistic adults falling through the cracks every day.

    Best of luck with this show, Alex and Jack! And, by the way, Alex, the new glasses look great!

  3. July 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I have a quick question. My daughter has significant sensory processing disorder with some aspergian qualities, but isn’t considered on the spectrum. I noticed that Alex’s eyes in the video shift and move around a lot when he speaks. My daughter’s eyes do this, it’s very noticeable though, and she has to look at a spot above your head to speak. In fact, if she looks at me it’s hard for her to make words come out of her mouth. Is this a common issue with SPD/ ASD folks? It’s not so much the lack of eye contact but the rapid eye movement and shifting that I’m concerned about. Sometimes her eyes go in complete circles when she speaks.
    I’ll be checking out the youtube channel!

  4. Sarah
    July 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Wonderful. Thank you Autism Speaks and Wrong Planet.

    Jennifer – please see another clinician and check out Autism Speaks know the signs section of his website.

  5. Corinne
    July 27, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Love it! You go guys. I’ll be checking back for part II.

  6. jenstate
    July 28, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Thanks, Sarah. Trying to find a developmental optometrist… don’t know if that’s the right person to see.

  7. Dadvocate
    July 28, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I’m honestly delighted that Alex Plank’s WP is partnering with AS. It’s about time that both parties sat down to hash things out. I am hopeful this initiative will enlighten others in the ND movement (Are you listening Ari? Really listening?). AS is not the great Satan that they have excoriated these many years. There is tremendous agreement in the autism community, especially on adult and civil rights issues. Peter Bell, Autism Votes, and AFAA are leading the charge on these important fronts and can use all the support they can get. The ND community would do themselves a service by getting on board.

    I am hopeful that Alex will also see fit to “clean up” some of the more inflammatory posts on his site to reflect this partnership with AS and demonstrate his apparently new found sensitivity to those on the spectrum who are unable to function at his level and those who strive and hope for a cure for this often (but not always) calamitous and high risk disorder.

  8. Sarah
    July 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Jennifer/Jenstate –

    A developmental optometrist will be able to help your child with the eyes – which is wonderful and should be very helpful. He/she may (or may not) give their opinion about other spheres (speech, physical, neurodevelopmental – ADHD, AS, ASD, etc.). But, a developmental optometrist will not be licensed to formally diagnose anything other than the eyes (I think – I may be wrong).

    We ran into this problem with speech therapists long ago. They did know that our child had ASD, but it is not their “college”, so they are not allowed to diagnose ASD, they are not even allowed to say what they think, they can only say “I don’t know” (even though they did – they were experts – but they are legally not allowed to diagnose). The only persons in my state that are allowed to diagnose are: Developmental Pediatricians, Pediatric Psychologists with their specialty being for developmental disorders or Psychiatrists (again specialty with pediatric developmental disorders). No one else on the planet is allowed to say anything else (legally) when they are in their position (your child’s teacher, speech path, whatever). Many times they do – but it is not their college/not their license. This is heartbreaking for them as well (imagine the poor speech path’s position or the teacher for that matter – they work for the government and cannot say what they know – even though they are experts – and especially speech paths – they work with ASD kids every day).

    So, find someone who can diagnose Aspergers/ADHD/Autism/Whatever. The best way is to go to your state’s licensing websites (the college of X) and find the practitioners. I bet you Autism Speaks has some resources for you (go to their site and look for your state). But, go to parent support group meetings/get on-line – maybe your state has an ASD yahoo or an ADHD google group (many times, ADHD experts are the same doctors/psychologists for ASD). You’ll talk to parents (non-professional license – so they are free to voice their opinion). Find out about all the doctors/psychologists within driving distance. Also, find out when they went to medical school. If you have an ATN in your jurisdiction – you’re golden (check Autism Speaks website and find the ATN section).

    The first person we saw (I now know) is notorious for not diagnosing high functioning kids, not believing that early intervention does anything (so only diagnoses even the most severe children when their parents are “ready” for the diagnosis). Yup, he doesn’t diagnose severed kids if he thinks the parents are in denial. He finished medical school in the early 70’s. No one can “fire” a doctor for being an idiot/old school. He still has his license. Now, imagine how that same poor speech path felt when she knew this was the doctor we are to see (they both work for the same regional hospital).

    Don’t worry. Follow your instincts. You are the expert when it comes to your child. Now, you just have to find someone to help. So, find your state’s licensing sites and find other parents. Who did they see?

    Good luck.

  9. Nicole
    July 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    My daughter also has autism-but has not officially been diagnosed. She has some very classic signs but can function very well in the classroom and is quiet so she goes under the radar. The school psychologist looked at her for 10 minutes in the classroom and based on that, decided nothing was wrong- that was the school’s “comprehensive evaluation.” I have heard of kids who have been to 11 doctors who all deny that the child has autism but the parents persist b/c they know in their hearts that is what is going on… the 12th doctor is the one who finally gives the diagnosis. We are on our 4th or 5th doctor so hopefully, the next one will be the one who figures it out- or looks at my daughter long enough to notice the signs. It is very frustrating- and if insurance was not an issue, we’d go out of state to an “expert” in a second. I am convinced she has high functioning autism and hopefully somewhere there is a MD who will pay attention long enough to see this.

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