Alexander "Alex" Plank (born June 27, 1986) is an autism advocate, filmmaker, actor, and the creator of Wrong Planet. He is known for his consulting work on FX's The Bridge. After being diagnosed at the age of 9 with Asperger syndrome, Plank started Wrong Planet in order to find others like him on the Internet. After the popularity of Wrong Planet grew, Plank has been frequently mentioned in the mainstream media in articles relating to autism, Asperger's, and autism rights.
As a child, Plank was bullied, excluded, and ridiculed by his peers, according to the book Neurotribes. He only found out about his diagnosis of Asperger's after looking through papers in his parents' drawers when he was nine years old. During his teen years, he searched the internet to find others like him but was frustrated by the lack of sites for individuals with autism. He was a Linux developer while still in high school and was familiar with the tools needed to create an online community so after meeting Dan Grover, he created Wrong Planet at the age of 17.
Alex Plank's story regarding the founding of Wrong Planet is covered in the special education curriculum of many universities in the United States. A page is dedicated to Alex Plank and his story in a textbook used by various universities such as the University of Virginia and George Mason University for introduction to special education courses.
In 2010, Plank started an Internet television program called Autism Talk TV. The venture is sponsored by Autism Speaks. Rosie O'Donnell and John Elder Robison talked about the show on Rosie Radio A front page article from The New York Times, entitled "Navigating Love and Autism", written by Amy Harmon, was published in December 2011 about the romantic relationship between his two autistic co-hosts Jack Robison and Kirsten Lindsmith. Alex Plank, Wrong Planet, and Autism Talk TV were discussed.
Plank travelled to France in February 2012 to direct a documentary exposé, entitled Shameful, concerning the way in which autism is viewed and treated in France. When the film was in post-production it was covered by publications in both France and the United States, including L'Express and Vivre FM, a radio station in Paris; a trailer was released in July 2012.
Along with French activist David Heurtevent, Plank founded Autism Rights Watch, an NGO for which he serves as president.
Alex Plank served as a consultant for the 2013 TV series The Bridge and worked with Diane Kruger on developing her character. He made his on-screen acting debut in the finale of season one, playing the role of the intern at the El Paso Times. Diane Kruger stated that Plank was on set every day, would go to the writers room, and was "instrumental" to both her performance and to the writers, as he would also work with the writers in the writers room. Kruger also stated that, while working on the show, she spent more time with Plank than with her partner and friends. Plank introduced a variety of autistic tendencies into Kruger's character of Sonya Cross, including stimming, awkwardness around eye contact, and a flat affect.
The way in which Plank got hired to work The Bridge was somewhat unconventional. He was reportedly called out of the blue by an executive at FX who had heard of Plank. The executive proceeded to ask him questions about his experiences and his knowledge of autism. After this, Plank was contacted by the showrunner, Elwood Reid, who invited him to the writers room to talk with the team of writers. It wasn't until after he met with Diane Kruger that Plank was offered a full-time position on the show.
In 2006, Alex Plank was sued by the victims of a 19-year-old member of the site, William Freund, who shot two people and himself in Aliso Viejo, California. Plank appeared on Good Morning America and Fox News discussing the incident.
Plank gave the keynote speech at the Autism Society of America's national conference in 2010. He also gave the keynote at the ASCEND conference in San Francisco. According to People Magazine, Plank will be speaking at a conference in San Diego during which he will also be involved in the first "all-autism" wedding where he will serve as DJ and best man.