Major: Film and Video Studies
Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia
Webmaster Extraordinaire: Plank started WrongPlanet.net, an online community for individuals and the parents of those with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other neurological differences, with a friend he met online while he was still in high school. WrongPlanet.net currently has almost 27,000 members.
Choosing a Major: When Plank first came to Mason, he planned to major in computer science but soon discovered the new degree program in Film and Video Studies. “I had done some acting in high school and had always been interested in television,” he says. It was a perfect match.
In Production: Plank is working on two documentaries about autism. One focuses on some of the misconceptions about autism; the other, Red Peg Square Hole, features vignettes about people with autism. He has completed a third documentary, First Precinct, about the 2008 presidential election and voters in Virginia’s first precinct.
In the News: Plank has spoken about autism on many of the major news outlets such as Good Morning America and Dateline NBC. Even Dr. Phil has talked about him on an episode. He also has been a guest speaker at a number of venues including public schools. “I like talking to parents the most,” he says.
Inside Track: Many more people have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as it is now becoming known, than you would expect. “A lot of people don’t want to say [they have it],” says Plank, who was diagnosed with ASD when he was 9. “So they don’t tell anyone.”
Off the Beaten Path: When not in his dorm room editing film, Plank likes to be outside on his mountain bike at Wakefield Park or off-roading in his Land Rover in Leesburg.
Favorite Films: The Matrix trilogy. “The third film is awesome. The way philosophy is mixed with computer science is amazing.”