International praise for Russell’s work in advocacy

“Much Needed Perspective for Our Research”

Russell gave an inspiring talk about his experience living with autism spectrum disorder and other mental health comorbidities to our master’s students at USC. As brain researchers, we are frequently detached from the experiences of individuals like Russell, making it easy to disconnect with the overarching purpose and significance of the types of knowledge gaps that brain research is trying to address. Russell’s testimony was refreshing, informative, approachable, and a much-needed alternate perspective of what it means to live with a neurological condition.

Lauren Salminen, PhD
Instructor of
Research, Neurology, 
University of Southern California

“Touched Our Hearts and Gave Hope to Us All


Lawrence k fung

Russell Lehmann touched our hearts with his personal story at the Stanford Neurodiversity Summit. He transformed his personal struggles to passion and strength. The neurodiverse community – neurodivergent people, their families, mental health providers, educators, service providers – was inspired by Russell’s resilience and motivated by his powerful and genuine poems. Thank you, Russell, for sharing your gifts and giving hope to us all.

Lawrence Fung, MD, PhD

Director, Stanford Neurodiversity Project

Fantastic Presentation, Perfect Speaker!

Russell is a fantastic speaker! I would recommend him to any group! Russell is very articulate, passionate, and has a great message to share with everyone. Not only was his message great, but he brought it to our audience in a way that kept their attention and connected with them. He was able to still click with our audience even though his presentation was on a virtual platform. With our group, Russell was speaking to young adults with all types of disabilities. He was the perfect speaker for this type of audience. Russell was real with them and validated their thoughts and feelings. They connected with his story because his story is also their story. We are just so pleased that we had Russell as a speaker and would invite him back anytime!”

Carrie Greenwood
Program Coordinator
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy

“Standout Presentation


“The WV Autism Training Center, located at Marshall University, delivers an annual conference designed to communicate current, relevant information about autism to those diagnosed, their families, and educators. Each Autism Across the Lifespan conference features voices of those from the autism community; in 2021 that voice was Russell Lehmann. Mr. Lehmann’s session – Triumph: Overcoming the Odds – was a standout presentation at the two-day event. Through his personal story Mr. Lehmann helped audience members understand challenges associated with autism and co-existing conditions, and recognize the need to teach resilience-building skills. Mr. Lehmann’s story reminds each of us to see value in each human being, and inspires us to work harder to develop deep, meaningful relationships with them.

     Marc Ellison, Ed.D., LPC

Executive Director

West Virginia Autism Training Center

“An Authentic and Truly Great Motivational Speaker!

Lisa Catherwood Oregon

Russell keynoted the Oregon Statewide Transition Conference, connecting over 500 participants, made up of teachers and agencies who work with youth who experience disabilities throughout the state. The presentation was so helpful. Russell’s message was touching and inspiring to all the participants. His sincere and powerful life story, poems and journey is a great reminder of what some of our youth struggle with and how to better support them in their transition to adulthood. He is an authentic and truly great motivational speaker! Russell, you are a great inspiration for people to push themselves out of their comfort zone to grow!”

Lisa Catherwood MS, LPC, CRC
Host Home Coordinator
State of Oregon Developmental Disabilities Services

“Standout Presentation


“The WV Autism Training Center, located at Marshall University, delivers an annual conference designed to communicate current, relevant information about autism to those diagnosed, their families, and educators. Each Autism Across the Lifespan conference features voices of those from the autism community; in 2021 that voice was Russell Lehmann. Mr. Lehmann’s session – Triumph: Overcoming the Odds – was a standout presentation at the two-day event. Through his personal story Mr. Lehmann helped audience members understand challenges associated with autism and co-existing conditions, and recognize the need to teach resilience-building skills. Mr. Lehmann’s story reminds each of us to see value in each human being, and inspires us to work harder to develop deep, meaningful relationships with them.

     Marc Ellison, Ed.D., LPC

Executive Director

West Virginia Autism Training Center

“Dynamic Expert”

“I recently had the good fortune of meeting Russell Lehmann.  I was immediately drawn into the conversation.  Russell is sincere, honest, and generous with sharing his story.  As the MA DDS Statewide Director of Training & Staff Development, I am always on the lookout for dynamic, informative speakers.  People who are not only subject matter experts, but also have so much more to share.  Russell is able to address an experience as only he can.  Difficulties at a young age, where he was bullied as a quirky kid, finally leading to a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Russell’s description is not fiction.  It is a story which he lives every day.  He will tell you the heartbreak, the hard times, and the truth about what it is to grow up autistic.  Don’t miss the opportunity to hear him speak!  We valued all the insights we learned as he spoke of his life.”

Valarie (Oresto) Whiting, PhD
Statewide Director of Training & Staff Development, MA DDS

“Powerful and Inspiring”

“Russell keynoted our Speak Up and Speak Out Summit. With over 500 self-advocates in the audience, Russell’s message of hope and advocacy was powerful and inspiring, Hearing Russell’s story motivated the audience – if Russell could find success through all his struggles, so could they. He encouraged everyone to find their voice and speak up.”

Janet Donahue
Director, Arc of Illinois

“Motivated Us to Change the World!”

“Russell Lehmann is relatable, relevant, and real. He is honest about his past and optimistic about his future. He shares stories of heartbreak and breakthrough. He left our audience of professionals inspired to do hard things, challenged to persevere, and motivated to change the world!”
Dave Bratcher, Director
The STAR Center, Jackson, TN

“Dynamic and Authentic!”

“Words don’t seem strong enough to express the impact Russell had on our event. His ability to share some of the most vulnerable experiences in his life created a dynamic and authentic presentation. Russell’s perspective was crucial to provide a client-centered perspective for our conference. He set the stage for the social workers attending our conference to be vulnerable and authentic. I believe the social workers who attended our event will continue to pull from Russell’s presentation and be reminded that our clients and their struggles are far more than what we view during a case management session. Russell’s personality, perspective, and willingness to be authentic would transform anyone’s training event, as it did for ours. It was such a pleasure to work with Russell- we hope to be able to again!”

Tess Peterson
Nevada Public Health Foundation (NPHF)

“Captivated the Audience…Standing Ovation!”

“Russell presented to a large audience of autism service providers, investors and industry professionals who serve the autism community. Russell courageously shared his journey from misdiagnosis to diagnosis as a young teen, including his struggles navigating school and the education system. In a very honest account of his experiences he highlighted how he transformed his life into his current role touring the world as a motivational speaker sharing his written word. His message of hope and perseverance resonated with all attendees. Russell’s presentation captivated our audience and received a standing ovation!”

Ronit Molko, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Empowering Synergy

“Moving Speech in London”

Russell Lehmann - Dr. Francesca Happe

“Russell’s inspiring and moving speech touched the hearts of the scientists and students who heard him when he spoke at our research Centre in London. We all learnt a great deal from him sharing his personal journey, his poetry and his wisdom.”

Francesca Happé PhD,
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, King’s College London

“Fantastic Keynote, Highly Recommended”

“Russell brought to us a fantastic keynote presentation that provided an honest, and sometimes heart wrenching, look at the pain of growing up misdiagnosed and mis-educated, which our audience of youth with disabilities, parents and educators could identify with. With his honest account of his experiences, he also shared a chance for the audience to remember that dark days bring opportunities for growth, new chances and new experiences, and not to let those opportunities pass us by. We very much appreciated Russell’s humor, intelligence, insight and humanness and highly recommend him as a presenter to any group of people wanting a deeper connection to the human experience.”

Mary Di Biase, Director
Montana Youth Transitions

“Powerful and Unforgettable”

Russell Lehmann Georgetown Independent School District Dana Johnson

“Russell came and spoke to our Special Education team, a group of educators that work directly with students with various disabilities. These are professionals that have advanced degrees and years of experience in the field. They described Russell’s presentation as “eye-opening, powerful and unforgettable”. Russell speaks in an authentic way about his struggles with autism. He is candid in the way he describes his experiences and is willing to answer questions to help his audience gain an insight and understanding that only an individual living with autism can. Russell touched all of our lives and he gave us hope for the students that we support that are dealing with some of the same challenges.”

Dana Johnson, M.Ed. Special Education Director
Georgetown ISD, Texas

“Captured the Audience”

Eric Kurtz, Russell Lehmann

“Russell’s keynote presentation at our symposium was an emotional, raw and very personal story about the lived experience, including the triumphs and the challenges. His story captured the audience and inspired us all.”

Eric Kurtz, Ph.D
Executive Director, Center for Disabilities University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine

“Compelling, Moving, Riveting!”

Dr. Francisco Reveles Testimonial Russell Lehmann

“Compelling, moving and riveting is how I would describe Mr. Lehmann’s presentation to our entire staff. As a County Superintendent of Schools, I was deeply impressed with his ability to connect with an audience of educators and school board members. His life story and struggles served to give us all hope and optimism in serving children and their families. Well done Russell!”

Dr. Francisco Reveles,
Yuba County Superintendent of Schools

“A Phenomenal Keynote”

Robert Peyton, Ph.D. was very impressed with Russell Lehmann's Keynote for the Autism Society

“Russell was a phenomenal keynote speaker for our annual conference. His poetry was personally moving to me, and the stories he told of overcoming adversity were highly inspirational to all of the people at our conference.   He really brought the message of gaining strength through admitting his weakness and pushing through adversity one little step at a time.  This is a message we all need to hear, particularly people affected by autism who have an even more personal connection with Russell’s story – Russell showed that he did not just say that message, but he lives it as well! My favorite part of the conference was actually where he admitted he still has struggles, and showed how he may have to recover from a breakdown and then go talk to hundreds of people. We had about 800 people at our conference, and after Russell finished speaking, I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the house. Very impressive young man with an inspiring story who I would recommend to anyone. His kindness and generosity and overall his honesty can help make anyone want to try to be better.”

Robert Peyton, Ph.D.
President, Autism Society of Wisconsin

“Powerful & Dynamic Speaker, A Superb Keynote”

Ned Andrew Solomon says Russell Lehmann is a superb autism keynote

“Russell was a powerful and dynamic speaker whose message was, ultimately, one of hope, unconditional love and personal empowerment. Through original poetry, spot-on quotes by writers, philosophers and other great thinkers, and an intimate look into an at times disturbing and frightening coming-of-age story, Russell skillfully engaged the silent and rapt audience. One of our attendees, who has very high standards, said to me, “you hit a home run with this one”. If you bring in Russell, I suggest you leave enough time for Q&A. As superb as his keynote presentation was, his patient, sincere and touching unscripted actions with our very diverse audience were priceless.” 

Ned Andrew Solomon
Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

“Instrumental in Spreading Awareness”

Mary Helen Richer, Russell Lehmann Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati

“Russell speaks from the heart, and is an insightful, well-spoken presenter. He is not afraid to share deeply and openly, and is candid with both his triumphs and struggles. He is instrumental in bringing awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism and gives those who are not living with autism a very real inside look into his experiences.”

Mary Helen Richer
Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati

“Every Teacher Should Hear Him Speak”

Judith Bailey-Hung is inspired by Russell Lehmann's presentation

“We had the pleasure of having Russell speak at our autism conference last fall. He is a remarkable person with an amazing story to tell. I was inspired by his presentation and have really enjoyed his book. Every middle school and high school student (and teacher!) should hear him speak.”

Judith Bailey-Hung
Young Adult Institute (YAI) – New York

“Unwavering Advocacy”

Governor Brian Sandoval praises Russell for his efforts in autism advocacy

“In recognition of your unwavering advocacy and work to educate our citizens about autism, I commend your dedication to sharing your story through public speaking, poetry, and inspiring stories. I thank you for your commitment to ensuring no one feels alone.”

Governor Brian Sandoval
State of Nevada

“Stirring Presentation”

Anne Tapia of Regional Autism Advisory in Cincinnati, OH calls Russell Lehmann's presentation

“Russell Lehmann offers a stirring presentation that leaves you feeling inspired and awed. He vulnerably shares his experiences and reminds you to show compassion and a commitment to truly honoring people and their choices.”

Anne Tapia
Regional Autism Advisory Council – Cincinnati

“Highly Recommended”

Steve Degnan Praises Russell Lehmann's Corage and Perseverance

“Russell spoke about his own courage, persistence and resilience. I highly recommend him as a speaker. Inspiring guy!”

Steve Degnan
Nestle Purina PetCare North America – St. Louis

“The Power to Change”

“I was extremely impressed with Russell’s presentation to our Rotary Club. Russell engaged us with his personal story and poetry, the truth and the challenges of growing up with autism. He is an inspiring young man with a great message to help all of us better understand how to meet the challenges of life, to be more compassionate, and listen to those that are different than us. More importantly, he’s reminded us that we each have the power to change, become better, and love ourselves and those around us more fully.”

Greg Krause
Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County

“Gifted Speaker”

“Wow. I cannot begin to thank you enough for your AMAZING presentation. I received more positive feedback today than I have ever received about any of our guest speakers in the five years I have been here. You are a gifted speaker and I have no doubt that you have made a difference in how many of our staff members will interact with our kids, and with each other. It was wonderful to see the long line for your book. I look forward to the next one.”

Dr. Nancy Kelly
Upland Unified School District

“Worthy Praise”

According to Julia Vargas, daughter of B.F. Skinner, Russell is a very effective speaker!

“A very effective speaker!”

Dr. Julie Vargas
B.F. Skinner Foundation (Daughter of B.F. Skinner)

“Positive Attitude”

Tina Rhodes: Russell Lehmann has a positive attitude we can all learn from

“Russell’s powerful presentation, along with his ability to explain the lessons he has learned with an enduring positive attitude was both education and inspiring. Our faculty will be referring to his presentation throughout the year as Russell has provided practical, personal examples of living with autism that generalizes to compassion for all human beings.”

Tina Rhodes
UConn Health

“Poignant, Raw, Real”

Donna Meltzer of the NACDD calls Russell's presentation on life with autism poignant and raw.

“Russell Lehmann’s presentation is not to be missed! Russell’s story is poignant, raw, and real with an uplifting message that lets everyone know that whatever you are coping with can be overcome with the right support, a lot of faith, and much love. I highly recommend him when you want or need someone who can share their story in a very authentic way and hit home the points that disability and mental health conditions should never be stigmatized or hidden away. When Russell spoke to my organization’s conference attendees the room was silent and I would be shocked if there was a single dry eye in the room. I firmly believe that everyone benefits from hearing Russell’s story.”

Donna Meltzer
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD)

“Left a Lasting Imprint”

“Russell presented at the YAI Autism Conference in New York in November 2018. He was the highlight of the day! Russell tells his story and he will touch your heart. He makes your see how critical it is to have someone believe in you and love you unconditionally, and how this human connection can make all the difference in helping someone grow. He received so much positive feedback from the attendees; we hope to get him to present again. Russell has left such an imprint on our heads and hearts.”

Lisa Cornall
YAI Network

“Captivating and Authentic”

Kari Horn of Nevada Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities calls Russell a captivating and authentic speaker on autism

“Russell is a captivating and authentic speaker who brings passion, truth, hope and compassion to his work on the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and to his audience. He has the ability to bring everyone in the room into his experiences, painting a picture that allows the listener to imagine they were on his journey with him. When he spoke at our National Conference in Washington D.C. there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

Kari Horn
Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

“Strong Insight”

Andy Faletti praises Russell's strong insight in speech on mental health

“Wow, very powerful, so much tough stuff… So much heart, and also such a strong insight!”

Andy Faletti
Supported Life Institute

“A Call to Action”

Molly Cole of Connecticut Council for Developmental Disabilities

“Russell Lehmann gave an inspiring and engaging presentation to our Partners in Policymaking graduates in CT. His insight into how his own disability shaped his life was a message of hope and a call to action for our future leaders of the disability movement. Everyone was uplifted.”

Molly Cole
Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities

“Moving Us Forward”

Ed Holen of Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council calls Russell Lehmann's advocacy in autism moving

“Inspirational speaker who shares the ups and downs of his life journey while embodying strong self-advocacy and the will to move us all forward in the disability rights movement.”

Ed Holen
Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council

“Challenging Boundaries”

Carol Beitler says Russell Lehmann challenges boundaries

“Russell reinforced why I am committed to serving students with disabilities. His story inspires, and confirmed for me that the possibilities for the students we serve are without boundaries.”

Carol Beitler
Broward County School District

“Generating New Ideas”

Wendy Parent-Johnson was pleased to have Russell Lehmann at the University of South Dakota's Center for Disabilities 2017 Symposium

“Thank you for your informative and inspiring message. The audience loved you and really gained a lot from your presentation and sharing of your personal experiences. You were the perfect kick off for our annual 2017 Symposium and contributed to many engaging discussions and generation of new ideas among participants throughout the three-day event.”

Wendy Parent-Johnson, Ph.D., CRC, CESP
Center for Disabilities, University of South Dakota

“A Voice for The Silent”

Emma Dickinson of NVASP says Russell Lehmann lends a voice to the silent

“I had the pleasure of experiencing Russell’s presentation as part of the Nevada Association for School Psychologists (NVASP) lecture series. His heartfelt, honest testimonial and poetry struck a chord and echoed true to professional experiences perceived over the years. His perspectives added another layer to my helping skills arsenal. What was most refreshing to hear was Russell lending a voice to those students who are silent.”

Emma Dickinson
Nevada Association for School Psychologists (NVASP)

“A Poet and Storyteller”

Ira Gostin calls Russell more than a storyteller: his story of living with autism inspires us all

“Russell isn’t just a poet. Or a young man with autism who suffers with OCD issues and PTSD. He is an entrepreneur, a poet, a storyteller, and educator and an amazing individual with a fantastic story to tell. Bring him to speak to your organization and watch him fly with all his superpowers. He will touch your heart.”

Ira M. Gostin, MBA, APR
Second Start Learning Disabilities Programs Inc.

“The Power of Story”

Bill Weismann had Russell Lehmann join him at the 6th Annual Autism Coalition

“The power of story! Russell’s keynote address to our 6th Annual Autism Conference moved and inspired 160 parents, professionals, and adults on the spectrum. Standing ovation! Our conference planning for next year has begun and we want Russell back.”

Bill Weismann
Lewis County Autism Coalition

“Making a Difference”

Dr. Pamela Baker says Russell's advocacy in autism is making a difference

“Russell Lehmann kicked off our first Expanding the Horizon Event for parents. His story is one that needs to be heard by parents and educators. His presentation was engaging and inspiring. His poetry is heartfelt and real. parents and educators had an opportunity for questions and the conversations were moving. Thank you Russell, you are making a difference in many people’s lives.”

Dr. Pamela Baker
Region 10 School Service Center

“Powerful Message”

Russell advocates for strength in autism at Rhode Island Department of Health

“I have wanted to say how significantly you impacted all of us as our keynote speaker for our Rhode Island 10th Anniversary Student Dare to Dream (D2D) Conference. As situations arise through life, work, and community connections, reflecting back on your words of encouragement and inspiration in your powerful message that you have to keep going and work through it provides such hope for anyone who has walked or will walk the road you have traveled. We truly thank you.”

Colleen Polselli
Rhode Island Department of Health


Sandye Cox calls Russell's work with autism inspiring

“We had the pleasure of having Russell Lehmann as a Keynote Speaker at the 2017 TAVAC Conference in Grapevine, Texas. His insight and transparency about his struggles and triumphs with autism were nothing short of inspiring. The candid account of his “baby steps” to success was a great way to motivate and rejuvenate teachers as they begin a new school year.”

Sandye Cox
Texas Association of Vocational Adjustment Coordinators (TAVAC)

“Intriguing Story”

Russell speaks for disabilities and rehabilitation groups

“Russell Lehmann’s intriguing story and sincere presentation captured our staff’s attention. He brought challenges and issues that we see on a daily basis to life, increasing our insight and understanding. He also provided staff tips that will increase their skills and ability to work with individuals facing similar challenges.

I found his story and ability to turn his challenges into strengths inspiring, and motivating and encouraging for individuals worldwide as each person faces their own.”

Kara Lang
Nevada Vocational Rehabilitation