Guy Shahar is an autism consultant, writer and author of two books. In 2016, he founded The Transforming Autism Project, a charity that aims to transform public and professional understanding of autism and support autistic children and their families. His son, Daniel, was diagnosed with autism as a toddler.
What is your earliest memory?
Standing on an upstairs windowsill next to a big, open window, confused about why my parents were panicking.
What sums up happiness for you?
The profound inner presence I experience from practising Heartfulness meditation.
What makes you angry?
Suffering caused by cruelty or willful ignorance.
If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?
Probably an isolated tropical beach or forest.
What did you want to be as a child?
I think I wanted to be Prime Minister. Can’t imagine why.
What’s the worst job you’ve done?
The first thing that comes to mind is doing the night shift cutting sheet metal in a factory. I didn’t last long in that role.
Though when I think about it, the cumulative effect of being smothered in the culture of a multi-national corporation for eight years, followed by a (worse) year in a small local company, was much harder.
What would your superpower be?
My son recently had to choose a superpower for a school project. He wasn’t interested in any powers that we came up with, apart from the power to make other people happy. I can’t think of a better answer than his.
Have you ever been mistaken for a celebrity?
Yes, but nobody I actually look like – usually obscure snooker players for some reason.
Nobody has mistaken me for George Clooney yet but it’s no doubt just a matter of time.
What’s your favourite book?
I read very little but have been fortunate to read a few life-changing books. As a teenager, I read Labyrinths of Reason by William Poundstone, which really opened my mind to philosophy in a down-to-earth, inspiring way.
A little later, I read Franz Kafka’s The Trial and also The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro, both of which have had a profound influence on my own writing.
More recently, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer is by far the most powerful personal development book I have ever come across.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
A corny answer, but probably my son for how resilient and resourceful he has been, and how he has managed to prosper in the face of adversity.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be better able to handle other people’s negativity.
What would you change about the world to make it a better place?
For everyone to commit to looking inside themselves with honesty and humility, seeking the best in themselves and bringing that out more and more in daily life.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who helped to radically improve quality of life for people with autism.
Watch Guy’s talk, The Beautiful Reality of Autism, here.
For more information on Guy’s work, visit the Transforming Autism Project at transformingautism.co.uk
Interview by Rosy Edwards