Today I gave my first ever public presentation about Asperger's Syndrome for our local Sons of Norway group. I had a small audience (eight), but it helped me reach my Autism Awareness month's goal to teach three local people about Asperger's Syndrome and autism.
While I can talk for two weeks straight about Asperger's Syndrome just off the top of my head, I was really quite nervous. I'm just okay at public speaking. I tend to stutter and say "uhm" a lot. But I shouldn't have been nervous. They made me feel at ease as I stood in front of the room with Sam at my side.
I introduced myself and my children, and then started talking about Sam. I talked about how he got diagnosed and the relief I felt when he was diagnosed. I gave a definition of Asperger's Syndrome, compared it to autism (which people tend to be at least a little familiar with), and then launched into an explanation of the various traits and how they affect Sam: language/body language/humor difficulties, the lack of empathy, the sensory deficiencies, meltdowns, etc. I also touched on the good aspects of Asperger's Syndrome: the excellent memory, the high intelligence, the wild imagination.
I spoke about how my parenting techniques have changed after his diagnosis, and I also shared that while people who don't know about Sam's disorder think I'm a bad mother, I know in my heart that I'm not. I'm the best mother I can possibly be for Sam and Kaydee.
I got a lot of compliments afterward, and the audience asked a lot of great questions. They were very interested in the topic and thanked me profusely for coming and speaking for them. Most of them had never even heard of Asperger's Syndrome.
I just feel really good about myself today.