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Russell Lehmann is an award-winning and internationally recognized motivational speaker, poet, author and advocate whose words have reached over 20 million people worldwide, from Argentina to Norway, Lebanon to Australia.
Russell began to experience symptoms and struggles around the age of three, however not a single doctor or specialist could figure out what was happening. In 2003, at the age of 12, Russell was admitted to the psychiatric ward at a local hospital. He stayed there for five weeks, which were some of the toughest of his life. He unfortunately left this hospital without any diagnosis.
Later that year, in 2003, Russell was finally diagnosed with autism at the University of Washington’s Autism Center.
In 2011 Russell wrote a book titled “Inside Out: Stories and Poems from an Autistic Mind” which 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.
After accumulating a 4.0GPA in high school and being honored as a member of the 2009 All-State Academic Team, Russell spent two years taking part-times classes at his local community college (TMCC) in Reno, Nevada. He received straight A’s and was invited to be a member of the Phi Delta Kappa Honor Society, and soon after Russell discovered his true calling in life, helping others and advocating on their behalf. This is when he turned his focus solely to being a voice for the unheard, for he knows how difficult it is to go unnoticed.
Russell’s name and story is known world wide, and every presentation he gives uplifts, inspires and increases awareness and understanding, all the while producing a room full of emotions. He has yet to give a speech that has not received a standing ovation.
In 2013 Russell made national headlines after a spoken word poem of his, directed at a rap artist who made an offensive comment about those with autism, went viral. After accumulating over 500,000 views in 24 hours, the rapper released an apology a day later and retracted the lyrics from his song.
In 2017 Russell made international headlines when he wrote a heartwarming Facebook post about a meltdown he had at an airport, and the airline employee who helped him through it. It quickly went viral and was featured on Yahoo! News, USA Today, Autism Speaks and countless other media platforms. Everybody everywhere was encouraged to #BeLikeDavid!
In 2018, Russell presented in 20 cities all across the country and ended the year by being named Reno-Tahoe's "Most Outstanding Professional Under 40".
Russell has a raging fire within him to stand up for those who are not yet strong enough to do so themselves. His goals in life are to erase the stigma and stereotypes that come with having a disability, and to make this world a better place by spreading hope, compassion, awareness, acceptance, belief and tolerance.
-Speaker, Author, Poet, Advocate-