SAP — Autism at Work Summit :Part 2

The guy I am attending with, ostensibly to introduce Ascendigo Autism Services’ upcoming trek across the Greenland Ice Cap, picks me up, (since I don’t drive and it would have taken 3 hours on public transportation). Turns out, I should have done just that on Friday, the last day of the summit, because dealing with him and the debacle which ensues returning from the event is quite distressing — but more on that later…
Via Google Maps, I navigate us to the Ling Ka Shing Center at Stanford University in Palo Alto — in the heart of Silicon Valley, which has, arguably, the highest concentration of autistic-like geeks anywhere. After a minor snafu involving parking where I leave the guy in the parking lot and figure it out by querying the check-in desk help, leaving him to his own devices and proceed to investigate and take photos — the camera is both my shield and my raison d’etre at these functions; I feel safer behind it, and it gives me courage to navigate the throngs.
There is a pianist I get a great shot of, good coffee and real cream — which I spill immediately all over the front of the T shirt I designed with my logo and a scannable QR code linking to my website, Autistry And Me.
Then, I turn around and there is the guy we are supposed to initiate contact with; it says so on his nametag. Good thing I remember his name… I am, once again, literally speechless — but not until after I introduce myself and attempt, by shouting across the room, to summon the other guy who doesn’t budge from his coterie of friends from home. Oh, well — it’s his problem now.
This attitude of mine — “It’s his problem” — illustrates an issue with impatience I have with other autistics (HF only). See, I just don’t mesh with this guy — or with most of the other “High Functioning” autistics I have met recently. I don’t see them as high functioning at all, so helpless and clueless they act in situations I just plow my way through; I am expert at asking for help, having required it so much in the past, and even currently. I think I have more empathy with those more like myself, who rock and stim, make animal sounds and echo words and conversations. Those who hit themselves and break down crying like a toddler in the face of frustration. These who look more normal only aggravate me. I hope to become more tolerant but have not managed it yet. Note that I only met my first “High Functioners” in the past few months, so have not had much exposure to them; although, in retrospect, it appears the few friends I have had were mostly “on the spectrum” — undiagnosed. I say “were” because the not very intimate friends I have now, except for one, are not autistic at all. My appearance and genius IQ explain some of it — one “HF” guy remarked recently that I didn’t realize how many doors my beauty opens for me. Yes, I do — and my intelligence as well, I believe these attributes have allowed me to be somewhat admitted to the world at large and semi accepted there — “She’s just so bright!” I have had a very rich and active life in the world of “normal” people and activities, usually as the only autistic, though my autistic behaviors are more outwardly noticeable — the self — stimulating behaviors, poor eye contact and hyperactivity, for instance. I am, for example, the only one rocking and flapping my squishy toy — of which I have many and match to my outfit and the occasion. One example of my assimilation: I was a musical prodigy and played in the local youth symphonies, which trained me to mingle in upscale venues. I was also identified as autistic early in life so have spent my entire life navigating it. Yes, I went intermittent phases from my teens to thirties where I attempted to pretend I was normal, but they were unsuccessful. Now, I embrace my weirdness and try to educate others with humor and originality. So back to the venue…
Excusing myself, I locate the bathroom where I attack the coffee not-yet-stain, emerging with a very unsexy wet T shirt effect. While it is drying, I call Sallie of Ascendigo for an emergency conference on how to proceed from here. She assures me an introduction was sufficient, and off I go, into the melee.
The glass sculpture on the ceiling fascinates me, and I get many pictures. Nobody else seems to notice it.
I speak with a caterer who has the same cell phone as I, and I like her case. She tells me where she got it and I ask her how she likes this crowd. To this she replies, “They are nice — not as snooty as some”.
I see some placards representing companies, including Microsoft, which I have admired since the DOS days — I arrived late to DOS, when 95 was the OS — I was writing custom Config.sys and autoexec.bat files to perform such exciting tasks as telling the HP LaserJet Series 2 to print in a bold font. Later, when I worked at a used electronics store, I got to disassemble and refurbish specimens like the first computer I was given — after I destroyed the OS and found its owner didn’t have — the venerable IBM PC XT. She didn’t want it anyway, as it was ancient. I, however, was in heaven, having just discovered the joys (and agonies) of both hardware — my favorite — and software.

The Venerable IBM PC XT
Getting way off track here — but this IS a tech convention!
Soon, the panel of speakers convenes and I take a seat up front.
The man who invited me, Jose Velasco and speaking to the Senate (?) — thank you again, Jose — introduces the speakers.

They are authors Jon Robison Elder (whom I like best, and who later receives the dubious distinction of “liking” my Tweet of the photo I took of his and the others’ shadows), Steve Silberman, author, “Neurotribes”, and Stephen Shore .
Twiddling and rocking, I manage to listen and read from the sometimes misspelled transcript on the 3 screens, but am more interested in the electronic equipment for Livestreaming and recording the event.
Livestream is a video live streaming platform that allows customers to broadcast live video content using a camera and a computer through the Internet, and viewers to play the content via the web, iOS, Android, Roku, and the Apple TV. Livestream requires a paid subscription for content providers to use; it formerly offered a free ad-supported service but no longer does so as of 2016.
About halfway in, I leave to take photos in the lobby. I just can’t sit still. Neither can some others I observe scrutinizing their phones.
I chat with a guy who is working at Stanford to develop a device for recording sound levels for autistics called “Level the Noise” — Zach, I think his name is — and I consider participating.
Then, I get a good group photo of Niarchos Pombo and some of his associates from SAP, Latin America.
He also thanks me for the pictures I later send him.
This makes me feel appreciated and included — even if I never make it into the SAP Autism at Work program, though I just discovered I am eligible through the Department of Rehabilitation.
That’s about, it — except for the pesto canapes I enjoy.
The journey home is another story, and I decided not to relate it here, as studies have shown internet readers like shorter pieces.
Besides, it is not very positive in tone, and I would like to end this piece on the upbeat note I left the summit in.

One thought on “SAP — Autism at Work Summit :Part 2”

  1. This is a very nice stream of consciousness piece. I enjoyed the pacing and different perspective on the event (and it does leave one hungering for the car scene). The Stanford tech, would be nice to learn more about that!

    Liked by 1 person

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