Back from Clemson

Posted: August 21st, 2009 under disability issues, the book, the writing life.
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I had a lovely visit to Clemson University earlier this week.  The Speed of Dark had been chosen for the freshman summer reading, and I was invited to come speak to the freshman class (as well as meeting some faculty, trustees, administration, and more senior students.)

Two things in particular impressed me.  One was finding out that Clemson has a student organization for autism awareness, founded by some remarkable students with innovative ideas.  I met three of them–two were pre-med with hands-on experience with disabled kids.  Wow!   The other was hearing that the book opened a dialogue among faculty and administration members who had people on the spectrum in their families, but had previously felt isolated–unaware of the number of people in their community who were affected.

This is not the first “group reading” I’ve heard of that opened the topic among friends and colleagues, and it always moves me to that “blurry screen moment.”   I think, in part, it’s because Lou is not a scary character–he’s someone people can talk about without wincing.     At any rate, I’m grateful to have the book having such good effects, where it does.

So, many thanks to Clemson U. for choosing the book, and inviting me.  I met fascinating people, saw a beautiful campus, and got to speak to over 3000 people…talking about how it was to discover our son was autistic and how rewarding, as well as challenging (probably because it was challenging), the experience has been.   Some of these freshmen will have a child on the spectrum–if they can come to that experience without the fear so many have suffered with, if they can feel free to use their own intelligence and creativity to work with their child, then that’s a great benefit to them, their children, and society.


  • Comment by Barb — August 28, 2009 @ 6:59 pm


    I am usually a lurker on this site, but I just wanted to post a comment so that you know that at least >one< person checks this blog on a regular basis.

  • Comment by Elizabeth — August 28, 2009 @ 7:19 pm


    Thanks! This poor blog has been the victim of deadlines, confusions, and other LifeStuff this summer–I know I don’t post on it as often as I should.

    However–M’s off at the football game, to be picked up at 10 pm (he didn’t get any hours at work this week, so wisely chose to go to the game rather than sit home and feel bad about not working. Friday’s his usual night to work.) And I think I’ll post about the communication thing again….

  • Comment by kate — September 22, 2009 @ 6:59 pm


    We really appreciated and enjoyed your visit! Thanks for the opportunity to better understand autism, your book has touched 4000 freshman.

  • Comment by Elizabeth — September 22, 2009 @ 9:23 pm


    I thoroughly enjoyed it. The people I met were lovely, and I wish I’d had more time to get to know them better.

    Not to mention the beauty of the campus, coming from then-drought-brown central Texas (we’ve now had some rain and greened up.)

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