I’ve never spoken publicly about autism.
I speak at conferences about my work and communities and co-ops and such, but my personal life has never been a source of material. Until now.
In October at the CU Water Cooler Symposium, I’ll be speaking about my experience raising a creative, talented, self-aware, anxious, sensitive and sometimes volatile boy who has gained great gifts and terrible burdens from his autism. I’ll be exploring the power that comes from focusing on a “special interest,” and how harnessing that interest can help people overcome great challenges in their lives.
For my son, his special interest is music. By the time he turned ten, he had finished three albums of original rock songs and would jump at any opportunity to play live for people. He can write and record a song in the time it takes me to write a blog post. Sometimes less. His music has an honesty and innocence that I find awe-inspiring and humbling.
He says that he owes his musical gifts to his autism—in fact his musical pseudonym is a nod to his disorder: he goes by Spectra.
I’ll be speaking about my experience with my son and his autism, and then Spectra will join me on stage to perform a few of his original songs, showing off his tremendous talent, confidence and creativity. Afterwards he and I will jointly do a Q&A with the audience to explore what it means to be autistic, and have a special interest to unlock our potential.
It will be a unique experience, and I hope a special time for all of us. Join us at the CU Water Cooler Symposium in Kansas City, Missouri this October to take part.
William Azaroff is the proudly elected Board Chair of Modo, a car-sharing co-operative in Metro Vancouver and Victoria and Director, Business & Community Development at Vancity, a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its 500,000 member-owners and their communities.