One of my most enjoyable moments at Hacking Autism was meeting Jim and Schuyler St. Leger. This father and son tandem brought hope to the event with their warmth, infectious joy, and concern for those with autism who are lower functioning.
They made autism personal. They gave it a voice.
When Jim spoke about autism, he didn’t limit his thoughts or concerns to his own family. He spoke of everyone with autism and seemed to have a special place in his heart for those less high functioning.
Here is a taste of Jim speaking about autism.
When interviewed in the ABC7 story below, Shuyler reflected his father’s heart, and requested apps for those less high functioning than himself (so much for those who don’t see the empathy in kid’s with autism or aspergers).
The ABC7 story actually has footage of Schuyler and I talking at lunch. I was doing the listening, because Schuyler was giving me a tutorial on the construction and production of 3D printers. In fact, he pulled a whistle out of his pocket produced by his very own 3D printer…a real whistle.
Throughout the lunch I was in awe (Shuyler is 11 year’s old!). Afterward, I walked over to Jim, who happens to work at Intel. I jokingly questioned Jim about Intel hiring the wrong St. Leger (forgive me again Jim). The look on his face, lead me to believe this was not the first time the subject had been broached (hopefully not by his bosses).
Take a look at Schuyler’s talk on 3D printers here.
As the father of an autistic son who is verbally challenged, I found Jim and Schuyler to be an inspiration. While talking to Schuyler, it was as though I was receiving a glimpse of my own son’s mind might at work. Unlike Schuyler, my son is more writer than scientist (he is a published author), but their mental energy is startlingly similar.
We need high functioning autism families like the St. Leger’s. Their lives make autism personal, and when they speak on behalf of those who are lower functioning it inspires.
It inspires those who can hack autism, to get in the garage and invent, so every person with autism can be heard and reach their potential.