Am I Still Autistic?: How a Low-Functioning, Slightly-Retarded Toddler Became the CEO of a Multi-Million Dollar Corporation

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Opportunities In Education, Jun 7, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography
John R. Hall III was diagnosed at age two as low-functioning autistic and slightly retarded. His son, John R. Hall IV, a.k.a. J.R., was diagnosed with autism at fourteen months. John completely understands the world his son lives in; knows perfectly well why J.R. does not make eye contact; and recognizes why the boy shows no interest in connecting to his parents. Most of all, John knows J.R. can be coaxed out of his shell into the real world, because he has already proven "the impossible is possible" in AM I STILL AUTISTIC?Beginning with the author''s earliest memories and his mother''s even earlier journal entries, AM I STILL AUTISTIC? details life in the contented, comfortable world of autism, where time is meaningless, focus is a state of being, and outside people and noises could not possibly be more irrelevant. Juxtaposing the author''s reality against his mother''s perceptions, the text traces their love-hate, yearning-distancing, mimicking-instigating, fear-ridden, always success-oriented relationship from the first strains of intervention to their eventual unspoken pact to deny the past. Set against this landscape of mixed messages and desires, the book traces the author''s jarring, often frightening exit strategy from his private haven into the alien world of mainstream classes, unforgiving peers, incomprehensible interactions, anxiety-provoking expectations, and inexplicable social demands. It captures the author''s confusion and embarrassment as he battles through elementary, middle, and high school; delves into the instincts and life skills he sorely lacks as he balances school, adolescence, and his parents'' financial and health decline; and contrasts his dynamic emergence into the business arena with his enduring inability to distinguish sexual connection from intimacy or love. Written in conversational language and semi-confessional spirit, AM I STILL AUTISTIC? gives teachers and therapists a peek into the child''s perception of their therapeutic techniques and efforts, and offers comfort and hope to parents who do not realize their children think of themselves as just normal, happy kids. It digs into those all-important pre-school years, the ones where his therapists'' expectations author''s path was firmly established in one direction in his therapists'' minds and in a completely different direction in his parents'' minds. The book continues through the author''s introduction and progress through elementary school, where he learned to apply his autism''s superior focus to his inculcated desire to success and his quest for connection to develop rudimentary social skills via sometimes painful, sometimes exultant trial-and-error.The text traces the author''s repeated separation/new school upheavals, highlighting his seventh-grade emotional collapse at Lincoln Middle School following a triumphant graduation from Roosevelt Elementary School, during which his parents felt vindicated, his therapists expressed proud amazement, and he successfully hid those aspects that belied it all. The story continues with the author''s discovery of adult versus adolescent worlds and his renewed commitment to academic and personal success, which he expands in yet another new school with yet another unsettling set of new faces and circumstances. The book notes the new backdrop against which the author''s soaring popularity plays out: his mother''s declining health and father''s advanced age both contributing to the family''s bankruptcy and his now total refutation of any earlier difficulties or diagnoses. The latter chapters of the book trail the author through his slightly delayed puberty and discovery of girls, his growing physical, albeit not emotional or psychological detachment from his mother, and his abrupt entry into the full-time adult world. They illustrate his youthful manhood, his swift climb through two companies while barely attending college, and his ultimate life-changing, life-affirming decisions: to cast off his mother''s expectation of law school, earn a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), and open his own company with a partner at age twenty-two. His triumph over his autistic beginnings is complete-except for those areas where it is not. The book''s final chapters describe the author''s serial, often overlapping relationships that provide only superficial connection, transitory comfort, and stress-relieving sex. The transcript ends on a quizzical note after the author finally accepts his original diagnosis, reevaluates his recent and continuing issues, and looks confidently to the future with a sense of rejuvenation and optimism. At 40,600 words, AM I STILL AUTISTIC? presents an illuminating, candid, and fascinating glimpse into the mind and spirit of the autistic child, the wrenching journey out of that private world, and the challenges and satisfactions of rising above those beginnings. A must-read for anyone who lives or works with autistic children, it offers comfort to parents, insight to therapists, and inspiration to those facing long-reaching choices. AM I STILL AUTISTIC? will be a mainstay on bookshelves for decades.

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About the author (2011)

John Hall has been integrally involved in the direct response marketing and telecommunications industries since 1992. At G2 Direct Response Services, Mr. Hall developed and oversaw a professional sales organization that transformed G2 into a leading provider of high-end direct response marketing and corporate outsourcing solutions to high-profile call center clients, including Gemstar-TV Guide, Time Warner Cable, and Sony Pictures. In 1997, Mr. Hall co-founded Greenwood & Hall to provide direct response and emerging e-commerce companies with integrated telemarketing, customer care, payment processing, and product fulfillment solutions. Greenwood & Hall is now recognized as a leading provider of customer relationship management solutions to a variety of sectors. Most specifically, Greenwood & Hall has emerged as provider of end-to-end solutions to post secondary institutions. Greenwood & Hall’s solutions support the student lifestyle including new student recruitment, retention, financial aid administration/advising, and student services. At Greenwood & Hall, Mr. Hall oversees business development, corporate strategy and development, new product development, higher education consulting, and the Company’s Enrollment Management Operations. Mr. Hall also manages projects of national interest for Greenwood & Hall. These projects have included the dedication of the National World War II Memorial, the dedication of the Marine Corps. Museum, White House Conference on Aging, the United States Department of Defense Freedom Walk events, the “Shelter From The Storm” multi-network telethon for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and most recently Hope For Haiti Now, American Idol Give Back, and Stand Up To Cancer. Mr. Hall volunteers his time as a mentor for college-ready high school students at Roybal Learning Center, an urban high school in Downtown Los Angeles. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Mapping Your Future, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that improves access to post-secondary education as well as financial advocacy.Mr. Hall received his B.A. in Political Science and his Masters Degree in Business Administration (M.B.A.) from Pepperdine University. Mr. Hall is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) from the University of Southern California.Mr. Hall is married and has two children – J.R. who is 5 and Lia who is 2.

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