I realized that we were nearing the end of the time we'd allotted for the classroom presentation. The boys who'd gone to recess had returned in the middle of the last question, and I knew I'd need to wrap up soon. But there were a few issues I wanted to address before I left, so I kept my responses brief as I headed toward the end.
"The next question you asked," I said, "was, 'Will Bud always be this way?'
"And the answer is, yes and no. Bud will always have autism, but he won't always be exactly the same way he is now – just like you won't always be exactly the same way you are now. You will all grow and change for the rest of your lives.
"Bud's hair-dryer brain will always work differently from your toaster brains, but he will learn how to be an autistic person in a mostly non-autistic world more and more as he gets older. Just like you, he'll get better at the things he's already good at, and he'll get better at the things he's not good at. He'll learn lots of new things, too. He'll keep finding new and better ways to make toast with his hair dryer.
"There are lots of adults with autism who are doing important things in the world. There is a woman named Temple Grandin who has autism, and she discovered that because of the way her brain works, she is better at designing systems for cattle farms than people who are not autistic. She has been very successful in her work. She is a college professor now, teaching other people about working with animals, and she has also written many books about autism. Just like Temple Grandin, Bud will always be autistic, but he will also have many, many opportunities to be anything he wants to be."
Up next: Question #9 - Does Bud know he's different?