Affinity and Autism: What We Love Is Who We Are, and the Way We Connect

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Duration: 2 Hours, 30 mins

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Even from infancy, we know what we like. We know what attracts us, what makes us feel good, what makes us curious about the world. And all those likes and dislikes fit together like puzzle pieces, or patches in a crazy quilt to make up our personalities – literally, who we are. 

Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder find their affinities and home in on them with laser-like intensity. They become experts about the topics and the things that they love; for them, that passion is the primary driver of their days. Being able to meet these individuals where they are – to share their enthusiasms for the things that they love – provides a path toward connection, not just for the differently-abled, but for all of us who can share a love for the world outside us and a respect for what lies within the people around us. Ron Suskind is the founder of The Affinity Project (TAP), which has developed new technologies that is allowing for real time, co-viewing of content through paired devices. The company is creating a new form of highly enriched data detailing how individuals react and connect through content distribution, consumption and driving a more humanistic approach to social media. They have developed a suite of proprietary products, including Sidekicks, Clubhouse and Bongo.Town, that have had their efficacy validated by independent research at Harvard and MIT, and will soon be released to the public. In his address, Suskind will demonstrate the technologies and discuss their market impact.

Ron Suskind is Pulitzer Prize-winning, former Wall Street Journal reporter and the author of six best-selling books, the most recent of which, Life, Animated, A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism, tells the story of his youngest son, Owen, who, after being diagnosed with autism, found a way to reengage with the world around him through movies. The book and an Academy Award-nominated documentary adapted from it, which won the 2018 Emmy for Best Documentary, has changed the way those with autism are seen and treated throughout the world. Suskind, who is a lecturer in narrative and justice at Harvard, is the founder of The Affinity Project (TAP), which has developed technologies to support neurodiversity and a more humane social media.