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Saltwater Portrait

William Lane: Lewes educator chats up conversation

New book offers advice, strategies for introverts
October 9, 2018

William Lane hated school when he was young. He was the boy who got shoved into lockers and endured high school taunting. When he graduated from Dover High in 1969, he said, he couldn't wait to get away and leave school behind.

“I thought education was stupid,” the Lewes resident said. “I went straight into the service. I would have never been accepted in college with my grades.”

He spent four years in the U.S. Navy – three of them in Japan – and when he returned, he brought with him a newfound love of learning.

“I realized how much an education is worth,” he said. “It hit me; this is the kind of work I want to do.”

Lane completed an associate's degree from Wesley College and a bachelor's degree from University of Delaware in three years.

Armed with a degree and a positive attitude, he began teaching social studies in Appoquinimink School District while working on a master's degree from University of Delaware. He briefly left the education field to work for former Lt. Gov. S.B. Woo, but soon returned to the classroom where he found his purpose.

“For 35 years, my passion has always been working with students who have special needs,” he said. “Those are students I really enjoyed working with.”

Moving to Lewes, Lane worked as assistant principal at the Lewes School, before continuing his education. He earned a doctorate in education from Widener, and then worked as program chair for special education programs at Wilmington College.

Lane said he has been drawn to students with autism. Chatty with a big smile, he talks about how he wasn't always self-assured.

Talking to people used to be difficult, and though never diagnosed, he said, he believes he is on the autism spectrum. “I diagnosed myself,” he said.

He said he can relate to many traits exhibited by autistic people, remembering his own awkward school days.

“They lack a lot of social skills. They don't know the importance of eye contact. Letting a person finish talking, for example,” he said. “If we can help them improve their communication skills, they'll be more liked by their peers.

“They'll be accepted; they'll be able to carry on conversations, and people will want to talk to them.”

In 2015, Lane left the world of academia and started an educational consulting business. Since then, he has spoken at autism conferences around the world.

After one conference, he recalls how someone suggested he write a book. He shrugged it off as crazy, but then thought, “Why not?”

So he did.

“Stop Being Invisible” was released on Amazon Sept. 12, written as a textbook/workbook to help people overcome communication barriers.

After finishing the book, he said, he found it has a wider audience than just those with autism.

“When I first started writing, it was for people on the autism spectrum. But now it can go further. The way that everyone is on their electronic devices these days, people don't know how to carry on conversations,” he said.

The book is available on Amazon.com and is $16.95 in paperback.