CEO pens book on being autistic, successful

February 23, 2012

Growing up and dealing with several challenges, John Hall wants others to succeed, so he penned his story.

"When I wrote this book I had not really shared my story or the fact that I dealt with this with many people until I decided to write this book," he said. "Everyone was pretty shocked when they heard the story and even folks that are very aware of autism."

"Am I Still Autistic: How a Low-Functioning, Slightly Retarded Toddler Became CEO of a Multi-Million Dollar National Corporation" is Hall's story.

"I was diagnosed at about 14-16 months," he said. "I wasn't talking, of course most kids don't talk at that age. I wasn't making eye contact, I wasn't responding. I was really in my own world. I would engage in repetitive behavior, flick switches on for hours at a time, play with pots and pans."

Hall is now working on his Ph.D. Telling his story was not easy, he said.

"First of all, I was really in denial with this for quite a while. I was ashamed of it, I didn't want to talk about it. I really didn't even want to say it was autism. I would say I was just in my own world and there was something going on with me, and there's nothing to be ashamed of. I think that's really, really important, specifically for parents and caregivers to know because it's something I went through."

His 6-year-old son J.R., who is also diagnosed with autism, helped Hall deal with his childhood struggles.

"I was devastated, and I was crushed. It took me several years to accept what was going on with him, and as a parent I'm a parent who actually dealt with something similar when I was growing up," Hall said. "It was so hard for me. I really felt that I needed to tell the story."

Hall describes his son's autism as being profound.

"It's difficult to communicate with him. It's difficult to have sustained eye contact with him. It's really even difficult to have a conversation with him, so compared to the relationship we have with our daughter, who is a little young, it's difficult," Hall said.

Hall said he hopes other individuals with autism will succeed like him, his personal hopes for his son?

"We feel very confident, we don't know what the future will bring. I don't know if he'll be getting his Ph.D. when he's my age or a CEO of a company, but I do know he will be doing good things, and we will keep at it and give him everything he needs," Hall said.

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