Meeting new people I always find both enjoyable and educational. In the case of the
interview with Jessica all I knew about her was her first name, and that somebody
had said she was “interesting”. Boy, did that turn out to be an understatement.
Jessica turned out to be an amazing human being, who also happens to be autistic.
This does not define her, or limit her, but it does explain some of the issues she faces
in her interactions with others.
In the Shrink Wrapped interview she describes some of these issues in a way that
really made me understand some of her struggles in greater detail. She also was
clear about some of the unusual skills she has. These include speaking multiple
languages, and clearly a very high level of verbal ability.
Of everything I learnt from Jessica, I was most struck by how she very consciously
started to study how comedians communicate. She recognized that they develop
specific non-verbal skills, and she then trained herself to copy these, with the
deliberate aim of improving her communication skills with others.
Her descriptions of the difficulty she also has recognizing faces, and what this means
in a practical manner, also have stayed with me.
I am extremely grateful to Jessica for her sharing her thoughts and feelings with me,
and allowing them to be more widely accessible through the Shrink Wrapped
interview. I hope this will help others understand, and be more accepting, of those
who have autism spectrum disorder.
Dr. Peter Silverstone