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David Finch shares experience living with Asperger’s

| Friday, April 10, 2015

David Finch, the author of the New York Times best-selling book “The Journal of Best Practices,” spoke with his wife, Kristen Finch, on Thursday in Carroll Auditorium at Saint Mary’s.

Finch has written for both The New York Times and Huffington Post on Asperger’s syndrome, which is also a central theme of his book. “The Journal of Best Practices” details a two-year period after his diagnosis of Asperger’s, five years into his marriage with Kristen.

“I just wanted to write a book to make people laugh,” he said of the book. “I’ll write about how I ruined someone’s life.”

In addition to his writing, Finch has also been featured in an NBC feature that aired on Rock Center with Brian Williams, and he travels around the country talking about the realities of autism and Asperger’s.

“A lot of people who are on the [autism] spectrum are individuals who can observe very well what’s happening around them and really fly under the radar,” he said. “We hyper-process everything. Marriage and autism are very similar in the sense that … you stand back and look at the relationship and think it’s completely normal, but you sometimes don’t realize what is going on inside.”

Finch said when his first book went on sale, he received many surprising letters from people who were fighting their way through similar situations. The common thread in all the letters was that the book gave them hope, he said.

“Autism and Asperger’s doesn’t always have the word ‘hope’ attached to it,” he said. “It is not easy for everyone; some people have a very difficult time. There are lots of amazing gifts and talents, almost super powers out there in the minds of these people.”

According to the CDC, one in 68 people are diagnosed with autism. However, Finch said even to this day he still strays away from telling people he has Asperger’s because of the social stigma that comes with it. People still try to give him “special treatment” when he comes to speak at events, he said.

“Most doctors should walk into the room with your child’s or your diagnosis saying, ‘You have a high power functioning machine here, he’s/she’s got an amazing mind.’ In reality, no doctors come in just saying that. They say that you have Asperger’s and it is going to be very difficult for you.”

Finch said there are four rules he has developed to lead to success, not only for people on the autism spectrum. The fourth rule, he said, revolves around learning to adapt.

“ … You cannot fail unless you fail to adapt,” Finch said. “We live in a neuro-typical world, not an autistic world. How do you fail when you have people to love you, to understand you and to guide you?”

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