Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 8 - Page 26

be a part of who she is. It’s not overdone. For two years I was on set every day with Diane and worked with her and gave her ideas. I was just there to make sure it was accurate. I worked with the writers. We would work through an important scene where Asperger’s played a huge part in her reaction to something. I learned a lot about how the TV business operates. One really cool thing is that they gave me a recurring role on the show. I had wanted to have a part on the show, and at one point there was a part open for an intern. I did the table read, and right after the read they clapped and then gave me the part. having to do it myself. I used it for social modeling because I didn’t know how to act. MP: What do you believe have been the greatest obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your life, school, and career? PLANK: The greatest obstacles for me have been social ones. I’ve spent a lot of time learning social intelligence and a lot of sheets. They want to shock the system of the kid. It’s a socalled “treatment” for autism that doesn’t work. I don’t think they even have a rationale for it; they just do it. The psychiatrists have all these theories about sexuality in the mother, and they blame the mother for the autism. It’s really backwards and shameful. We traveled throughout France docum enting countless families struggling to get support for their autistic children. I was already going to speak at a conference in Denmark and then went to Amsterdam and stayed in London for a day. I liked speaking in Europe. “I think the Internet was invented for autistics.” MP: Why were you drawn to the industry? PLANK: The whole entertain- ment industry for me is entertaining and rewarding. Having a creative outlet is fun for me. Acting is fun for me because I get to pretend to be someone else. The consulting side is fun, and writing is enjoyable because you get to create things that weren’t there before. I’ve always loved watching TV; it was an escape for me, a way to see people talking without 26 time early on trying to make friends and failing. I’ve since learned social skills. But I still struggle some with executive functioning. MP: Tell us a little about the process of making the documentary Shameful. PLANK: Well, first, it’s not re- leased, but we went to France and found that people were feeling hopeless because there was little support for their kids. Kids are being tortured. It’s called packing, where they wrap the children in frozen ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses I’m anxious that I’ll do well, though. MP: You spoke at the UN on World Autism Day. What was the most important part of your message? That’s a powerful thing to be able to connect like that. It allows people who have trouble connecting with people in real life to find others. If the Internet didn’t exist, they might never have been able to do that. PLANK: One of the questions they asked was “What is an important thing that doesn’t get addressed?” It was World Autism Awareness Day, but really the most important thing is acceptance, not just awareness. I talked about the importance of autistic communities. I think the Internet was invented for autistics. People who don’t like eye contact, people who have trouble processing things in real time can write a message on a computer, and then they can go away and wait, and then someone can respond, and then they can look at the response and think about what to say and then write it without having to deal with any of the social anxiety. Maripat Robison is an international speaker and writer, leading workshops on loving someone with autism. A retired television executive and magazine publisher, Maripat has raised two neurodiverse kids and is married to John Elder Robison. Maripat is the author of the popular blog and forthcoming book, I Married a Geek. MP: You do a lot of public speaking all over the world. What were the difficulties you had to surmount in order to do that? PLANK: I always enjoy pub- lic speaking because, unlike speaking with someone in person, you don’t have to deal with social reactions. I don’t have to look anyone in the eye; I don’t have to do any of that. I’ve had so much anxiety in social situations that doing something like speaking to a group of people, for me, is not anxiety inducing. Obviously, Now Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com and at any book seller upon request ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 27