Russell Lehmann is an award-winning and internationally recognized motivational speaker and poet with a platform of autism and mental health. His words have been featured in USA Today, LA Times, NPR, Yahoo! News, Success Magazine, and archived in the Library of Congress.
A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology “Leadership in the Digital Age” course, Russell sits on the National Board of Directors for The Arc, is a council member for the Autism Society of America, the Youth Ambassador for the mayor of Reno, Nevada, sat on the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, as well as the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Russell showed signs of autism as a newborn. However, he was not formally diagnosed until the age of twelve after suffering through five weeks in a lockdown psychiatric facility. In 2011, Russell wrote a book titled, Inside Out: Stories and Poems from an Autistic Mind, which was featured in the LA Times. He earned an Honorable Mention at the 2012 NY Book Festival. Russell’s book was also read by Temple Grandin and won the award for Literary Excellence at the 2013 International Autistic People’s Awards in Vancouver, Canada.
His new book, On the Outside Looking In, recently hit bookstores nationwide. In 2018, Russell was named as Reno-Tahoe’s “Most Outstanding Young Professional Under 40.” In 2019 and 2020, Russell lectured for the prestigious King’s College of London and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Special Education in Abu Dhabi.
Russell currently travels the world spreading hope, awareness, and compassion in a raw and dynamic fashion and hopes to erase the stigma and stereotypes that come with having a disability. His passion is to be a voice for the unheard. Russell knows how difficult and frustrating it is to go unnoticed.
In this interview, Russell and Alexandra Nichols, our Different & Able President & Founder, talk about Russell’s autobiography, Inside Out: Stories and Poems from an Autistic Mind, and his newest book, On the Outside Looking In. Russell also shares his experiences growing up on the spectrum, how he is able to manage the different symptoms of autism, the stressful and difficult day he experienced with air travel in 2017, and his role as a public advocate. Russell encourages those who suffer from autism to embrace their challenges and use them as a chance to grow; “Yes, there are challenges that make us who we are, but they do so much more than that. They inspire hope, change, and accomplishment,” Russell states.
For more information about Russell and his work, visit his website at www.TheAutisticPoet.com and follow his journey on Instagram and Facebook.