Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Public Speaking

Since the launch of Born On A Blue Day this past summer I've been invited to speak in a wide range of places. I've been as far west as Devon and as far north as Edinburgh, spoken in front of both a few dozen people and several hundred, in schools and libraries and theatres.

I have quite a quiet voice so the first thing I always have to remind myself to do is speak up. I introduce myself and my book and talk about my life. Afterwards I'm asked all sorts of questions by members of the audience.

The most enjoyable part of this for me is speaking in schools for children with special learning needs, including autism. The parents and teachers who attend my talks are always very complimentary about what I have to say.

My main message in them is that difference needn't be disabling, that it's ok to be different and that everyone is unique in some way and should feel it possible to live out that uniqueness. When we do that, autistic or not, we give ourselves the chance of happiness.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dan,

Just saw a footage about you on the Hungarian spektrum TV. It's similar to National Geographic.

Amazing skills you have, truly something people like me would be jelous of :))


Anonymous said...

Your message, that differences needn't be disabling, is a needed and beautiful one. It has been with me since seeing brainman a few days ago on TV. I don't think that you said that in the show, but it is the message that I got and I have taken it to heart. It has made me feel good about being unique and to respect my self and my needs. I see that because you take care of yourself and respect yourself we all have the gift of your amazing and inspiring mind.

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, are you planning on giving a talk in Kent?

Anonymous said...

Excellent Stuff!

brad maguire said...

Obviously as everyone else has said your talent is amazing. Wish I could learn more about you and how your brain functions. I would be honored to meet you, but I am so astounded at your ability that I would not know to say.

Have you, or do you plan on writing a book anytime in the near future? If so please let all of us that are interested in your ability know.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tammet-

You have echoed a much needed sentiment, not just for people who live with disabilities, but for all people who feel or are treated as being "different", and for the people who treat others as being, "different" in an unpleasant manner. I can relate to your experience in my own way, as I have a mental illness, and worked with and taught people who had similar disorders for about five years. And, I can say it was the most uplifting and inspiring period of my life. Yes, there were, and always will be bad days, but everyone has them, and if you really want to get depressed, watch the news. Mental "disorders", in whatever form they manifest themselves, have a basis in chemical reactions in the brain. No one controls this, (except if a pregnant mother ingested something toxic during her term, which resulted in abberations in the child), and it isn't the person's, "fault", (except possiby in the case of substance abuse), just the same as a persons' skin color isn't their, "fault", or the cause for discrimination.

We should, as human beings, be an inspiration and helper to each other.

Your quiet voice is very distinguished, and much more powerful than any raised voice ever could be. I'm glad you are able to live out your uniqueness in the pursuit of happiness. Many people could take a lesson from you on living, and not just math or language.

Bill, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

I had the pleasure of experiencing one of your talks recently at rivermead school, as a parent of a child with aspergers syndrome I found it truly inspiring.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

When I first discovered you and your blog I was just beginning your book and was blown away by the knowledge I gathered. Then I had this need to meet you and introduce you to my son who is autistic and still very much in his own world. I tried to come along to libraries where you were holding talks and each time all were sold out. I gave up. Its a lonely life being a parent of a autistic child when your family and some of your friends can't accept your way of life. I still yearn to learn and perhaps one day
I will feel like I am living again.

Daniel Tammet said...

Hi Stephen,

Yes I give talks around Kent - usually to schools and libraries. If you represent an organisation that would be interested in inviting me to come and give a talk please feel free to email me by using the contact link on this site's homepage.

To Brad Maguire,

Yes I have written a memoir entitled 'Born On A Blue Day' which you can purchase a signed copy of through this site, or else at all good UK bookshops and book-selling websites. It's released in the US by Simon & Schuster on January 9th.

Sharon said...

If I may borrow and modify a line from "Forrest Gump" (the movie):

"If God had wanted all of us to be the same, He would have made all of us autistic."
You are such a remarkable person and I want to learn more about you.

Do you think it is possible for others to learn your God-given skills? I would like to try.

By the way, can you tell me what color May 1, 1953 was? If not, no big deal. thanks.


Anonymous said...

As the aunt of an autistic nephew, thank you for giving people who don't know much about the disease a whole new look on it. You have provided family members of autistic loved ones a new insight of the world of an autism person and what possibly is going on in their heads. My nephew can tell you anything you need to know about dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

Be sure to post a note if you plan to be in the US. I read your book cover to cover and couldn't put it down. Well done. (also posted a note on my blog:
Thanks for sharing ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,
You are amazing :)
I have a friend who is a numerologist and he was incredibly accurate at describing another friend of mine, someone who he had never met, by studying the numbers of his birthdate.
It made me think that there must be something about numbers that we haven't been able to understand yet. Being a person that needs to find a logical explanation for things like this, I remembered a book I had come across a few months earlier.Your book.
I did not have enough money to buy it at the time but after talking to the numerologist I bought a copy because I thought there might be a link between numerology and what u see.
Do You have any thoughts on numerology in the sense that the numbers of your birthday could effect the person you are? Im sorry if this is a silly question. Im just fascinated about what possibilities understanding the world of numbers could bring to us all

lmaddox said...

Daniel, I'm in the midst of reading your book. Excellent! I'm wondering if you are interested in speaking in the United States. I run a state project for autism and would love to have you come talk to parents and educators next year (2008).

Enchanter said...

Hello again, I just watched 60 minutes and saw you on the show. I think you are brave Daniel, I could never go on TV. I agree, you are amazing.

Anonymous said...

I saw you on CBS/60 Minutes last Sunday. I purchased your book yesterday. I can hardly put it down!
I treat children with difficulty breathing (asthma, radiation/chemo therapy...)at a major medical center in the US. I deal with children with autism frequently. Thank you for providing insight into autism. I have a passion for my choosen field. You have brought a much needed light to my career.
Should your speaking engagements bring you to the US, I'll be on the front row.
All my best to you,

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan, Thanks for speaking up and out about autism. I work with preschool-first grade kids who've been 'diagnosed' as ASD and feel very priviledged to have this chance to learn about them and about me in the process. These great kids have inadvertently been teaching others how to be proud that everyone is special in some way. Have you ever thought about developing a coloring book about numbers, using the pictures you described on tv last week (#333 is very beautiful, as is Pi as a number). Even adults would buy this, not just kids! Thanks again for your courage and openness.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Daniel
I am reading your book and you are a fascination individual. I want to say thanks for sharing your story. I currently have student who I believes exhibits many of your same abilities as well as some of the difficulties with school, home, relationships, etc. I first met him at the age of five, last year in fact. At the time square roots were his obsession and now he cannot even read a fictional book with pointing out the connections to prime numbers. Most importantly, I am learning through your book what to do and what not to do as I attempt to facilitate this child's learning.

Megan said...

Hello Daniel - your message in the public talks that you give is very moving to me. I have a 4 year old son with autism and know that life will be difficult for him, because of his perceived "differences". Thank you for being so willing to share so much of your life with the public and giving me much needed hope that my son will be able to cope with the world around him. I wish that you were able to come to our area in America and speak to one of our local support groups. Can't wait to get your book.

Megan, mom to Caden

spickydoo said...

Hi Daniel,

I just learned about you last night at a friend's house, whilst talking about my autistic son. He's 5, unique, brilliant, sweet and full of wonder. I also think he may be a synesthesete. He constantly talks about numbers, their relationships to each other and the world and no end. I'm appreciative of your words on the whole matter of being "different". It's a hard task to allow yourself to not be affected by what others think, yet when you do, there's a world of possibility. I'm anxious to see what he will do in the future....looking for an apprentice?

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, my son has autism, and has a moderate to severe disability. We have had to put him on Abilify to keep him from being placed in a "special" school outside of our very good school district -- because he was violently attacking teachers and other students. Since Abilify, he has dramatically improved, I just wonder if it hasn't changed him in other ways that may be productive for his own learning processes. I am the closest person to him, by far, and so many times I feel so far away from him. At times he goes into a corner and just sobs -- and it will be nothing that brought it on -- nothing that we know of, at least... so many things that upset him aren't moderated within a reasonable length of time -- it is all trial and error. Sometimes squeezing helps, sometimes certain Mozart pieces. At the same time that he is completely unable to carry on a conversation or be driven to do so in even the least regard, he is able to surf the web and do complicated puzzles.

He definitely does "think in pictures". I guess my question to you is... you seem like an excellent spokesperson into the mind of someone who has been disabled and has overcome many of the difficulties of autism. Have you thought about acting as a consultant to parents of children with autism? You certainly do explain yourself well -- and often when I am doing the daily ABA therapies with Josh it seems as if it is like we are on Star Trek and he is of a world that is juxtaposed to our own, but does intersect in a few skew areas. Part of me feels like it is not fair to force him to adapt to a "typical" world, as he is his own individual and I love him for him... but I also know that we have to have him survive in this world. Any suggestions?

Oh -- one other thing -- he becomes completely distraught and we are unable to comfort him at all when one of us or his sister accidently push the "rewind" button or the "fast forward" button when a video or DVD is playing... and then the motion speeds up and the sound goes away... it is a little better with DVD's as they just skip to another scene, but at times that upsets him too. Also, it really upsets him if there are ANY scratches in a DVD so they skip or snag on a scene -- he really freaks out about that as well and cries for hours after that has happened -- so we are pretty vigilant in keeping only pristine DVD's around to watch and just throwing the others away.

Any suggestions on how I can bridge the gap and understand more of his world... it is as if he is speaking a completely different language and has a completely different set of rules and schematics from which he views the world.

You are amazing, by the way, and give me hope.


Anonymous said...

My son has PPDNOS, which is related to Asperger syndrome, as I guess you already know. Like most people with an autistic spectrum disorder he can't read other people's facial expressions, nor their body language and his own are very limited. However, what makes him different is that he aspires to have empathy with people who are disadvantaged and he's always donating money to charities. He's studying politics at school and is fairly astute about what's wrong with the world and of the plight of the disenfranchised. He's acutely aware of the inequalities of life. Sadly, unlike you, he's hopeless at numbers!

He loved your book and admires you greatly.

Chester, UK

Anonymous said...

Sylvia From North Carolina said:
It is pleasant to hear that you are using public speaking to help others.
Getting up in front of people can be magical. I have a stuttering problem, and I ramble around a lot in everyday conversations, but when I get up in front of people to recite poetry or give a speech none of that shows up at all. It’s like I’m a different person. It makes me happy when people tell me that they get a lot out of it.
Here are some tips for anyone who has to speak in front of people:
1. Practice. If you are giving a speech, read it aloud to yourself until you can nearly recite it by heart.
2. (As you have already said) speak up! If you put volume into your words, then people will pay attention.
3. Mix everything that you are feeling into the speech. This is why I argue that it is ok to be nervous. With practice you can take your tension and use it to put power into your words.
4. Slow down. You’re not running a race! Enunciate!
5. The worst thing that you can do is speak in a monotone. Use inflection!
6. Mean what you are saying. After practicing a great deal, you may be so tired of speaking the same words over and over again that you lose the whole point of the speech. Keep in mind that your audience (unless you are reciting poetry) has probably never heard the words before. It helps if you think about what the words meant to you the first time that you read/wrote them. This is going to sound strange, but take the meaning of the words and use it to paint pictures (metaphorically speaking) when you get in front of a crowd.
7. I have saved the most difficult of all for last. Interact with your audience. Look at them. Act as though you are speaking directly to them. Throughout the speech, pick different people in different sections of the crowd to “converse” with. Look directly into their eyes for as long as you can stand it, and then move on to another face. This takes hard work. There is no other way that I can think of to prepare for it than to do it. The more you speak in front of crowds the easier it will get.
I was looking at previous blogs on this site. I have something to say about the one on public libraries. The Internet is fine and dandy, but a lot of the information that I have found in it is either bogus or unhelpful. I have often looked for hours without finding the answer to my questions. The library provides information that is more detailed and more reliable.
I cringed when Helen Rumbelow said that children should buy their own books because books are now cheaper. As a child, I was an avid reader. When I was 12, I read so much that a year’s supply of books from would have cost me around 600 American dollars. I could have scrounged through used bookstores, but I would not have been guaranteed to find what I wanted. I relied on school and public libraries. Books were as dear of friends to me as numbers are to you. The public library (which was just down the street from my childhood home) was my refuge.
I would like to apologize to you. One of my posts to ”60-minutes” was censured. I did not mean to cause offense. It was meant to make you smile, not to make you angry or offended. I’m far too familiar in tone when I speak with people; it’s one of my greatest faults. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.
I noticed in your profile that you are fond of Joan Baez. I am also a fan. My favorite songs are “Longest Train I Ever Saw,” “Old Blue,” and “Diamonds and Rust.” It is nice to hear of someone who does not find the music that I listen to anachronistic. Do you like Gordon Lightfoot or Simon and Garfunkel?

Simon Raybould said...

Hi - don't worry about your quiet voice!

I'm a professional trainer in presentation skills and even I would rather have a quiet voice with conviction (which carries) than a louder voice, without conviction (which doesn't carry and means you'd have to shout).

Do what you do and let the audience do the rest!

Anonymous said...

hi daniel

Im just on your site reading about you you are amasing .I REALY THINK IT IS SOOOOO!!Cool That you are able to assotiate numbers with coulors iI Have purchased your 10 lessons of french and hope to get much better at french now.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodeness we are all different otherwise we would be robots. Some differences show more than others. Self acceptance, in my opinion, is first step to making a virtue of your different qualities.

Suz said...

I have recently read your book. I have a 6 year old grandson with Asperger's. He is high functioning, but I find it difficult to reach him. I can not just wrap him in my arms and make his demons go away like I can with my other grandkids.

He is in Kindergarten now and it breaks my heart to know that the taunting begins at such an early age. The social issues you describe in your book are eerily similar to what he is dealing with now.

But, you have given us hope that one day Cameron might have that glimpse of heaven you speak of. Thank you for allowing us into your world.

Anonymous said...

You're amazing Daniel. I assume you've studied Vedic mathematics and realised the potential here. Or perhaps you've developed just through "genetic unvailing" and continuous focussed perspective.
I'd love to know more about the nature of your focus. I can experience visions like you describe but don't have access or direction anything like in you. Wow!