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Russell Lehmann      

Author, Poet & Mental Health Advocate on the Autism Spectrum

Russell Lehmann is an author, poet, and mental health advocate who happens to be on the autism spectrum.

He began to experience developmental and behavioral symptoms and struggles around the age of three. Despite numerous visits, his parent’s desperate for answers of any kind, not a single doctor or specialist could figure out what was happening. In the spring of 2003, at the tender age of 12, Lehmann was admitted to the psychiatric ward at his local city hospital. He stayed there for five weeks, which were some of the most trying of his life. Still, he left the children’s hospital without a diagnosis – or hope – to return home with. In the fall of 2003, he was diagnosed with autism at the University of Washington’s Autism Center. He and his family were relieved to have what they believed would serve as a roadmap toward proper treatment – although they knew the tough times were far from over.

He dropped out of public school in fifth grade due to poor treatment from teachers and staff. Ten years later, in 2011, still struggling and having no connections to the outside world, Lehmann found an outlet in his natural creative and poetic tendencies, and poetry soon became his best friend. He channeled the depth of his experiences thus far to write his acclaimed book “Inside Out: Stories and Poems from an Autistic Mind." His book was featured in the LA Times, earned an Honorable Mention at the 2012 NY Book Festival, and won the award for Literary Excellency at the 2013 International Autistic People’s Awards in Vancouver, Canada.

He soon realized his mission was to help those who shared his struggles and advocate on their behalf. In 2018, he presented in 20 cities all across the country. He ended the year with a true testament to his hard work: he was named Reno-Tahoe’s “Most Outstanding Professional Under 40”. In 2019, Lehmann was back in a physical classroom for the first time in 15 years when he was accepted into "Leadership in the Digital Age" at MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, MA. During this class, Lehmann immensely enjoyed his time, but not without some severe struggles. It occurred to him what he had been missing out on for the majority of his life, but he also knew that if it wasn't for his perseverance through his challenges, this opportunity would not have presented itself. Later in 2019, his second book titled "On the Outside Looking In: My Life on the Autism Spectrum" hit bookstores nationwide.

Speech Topics


The 4 P's: How to Overcome Any Obstacle

Triumph: Overcoming the Odds

Finding Success Through Struggle

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