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Home » Predicting Overload: Autism Spectrum Disorder – Paul Fijal (Transcript)

Predicting Overload: Autism Spectrum Disorder – Paul Fijal (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Paul Fijal’s talk titled “Predicting Overload: Autism Spectrum Disorder” at TEDxEastVan conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Understanding Autism Through Jamie and Jacob’s Story

I’m an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by choice. I’ve been taught to be analytical, to think critically, and to look for problems to solve. Over the past little while, though, I started getting a deeper appreciation for the fact that some things, beyond needing just a simple solution, require understanding. I’m going to begin by telling you a story about Jamie and her eight-year-old son, Jacob.

It’s December 31, 2013, and Jamie and Jacob are both getting ready to go to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by Jamie’s sister. They’re getting ready to leave and step out of the door, and Jamie suddenly realizes she forgot to prepare the food, like her sister asked her to do. There’s a brief moment of exasperation, but she figures, “No big deal. We’ll swing by the store, pick up some food, maybe a bottle of champagne to sweeten the deal.”

There’s a bit of a rush now as they get in the car and drive to the store. Luckily, there’s a parking stall right by the entrance. And Jamie, with Jacob in tow, steps into the lobby and finds there’s about a thousand more people there than on any regular day. She quickly zeroes in on aisle 13, “Party Snacks,” turns the corner and, all of a sudden, hears a very loud crash.

Jamie spins around and finds that Jacob has knocked over a display shelf. He’s lying on the ground, kicking and screaming, and with his clenched fists, is hitting himself repeatedly in the head. It’s only with the help of two fully-grown men that Jamie is able to wrestle Jacob back into her car, where she straps him in, drives him home, and spends the next three hours trying to calm him down. When he’s finally settled, Jamie collapses on the couch, completely exhausted, and could do nothing but pray for the new year to be better.

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