I will never be deemed normal enough by nuerotypicals
I will never be deemed a normal autistic
I will never have a normal friendship
I will never have a normal relationship
I will never completely relate to another soul
I will never have a normal job
I will never have a large group of friends
I will never experience life like another soul
I will never give up
I will never take the easy road
I will never lose my hope for love
I will never give up on a friend
I will never stop trying to figure out how I can better myself
I will never blame my disorder
I will never stop using my platform to benefit others
I will never stop being thankful to those that have learned from throughout the years regardless of the size of the lesson
I recently got to participate in the jury selection of a federal criminal case. With my diagnosis and the nature of my job, I probably could have gotten out of it pretty easily if I wanted to. However, I knew I probably would not get many other chances to experience this fascinating aspect of our society.
The rules for federal court are pretty crazy. The hardest one to adapt to was no electronics. I didn't think it would be so hard, until I had to walk to the courthouse from a parking deck about 5 minutes away. Even though it was a straight line, I could not help but think that at any moment I could be mugged or something else happen and I would not be able to inform anyone. Its crazy to think how accustomed to our phones we have become. Since I'm a millennial, I got to go through most of my young life without having that hooked to me. Yet I had this feeling the whole time that I needed it.
But I digress. Once in the building and past security. I finally arrived in the jury room. It was a pretty typically room for 40-50 people. It was kind of surreal, because almost no one talked and it just had this serious aura surrounding the room. We watched this movie about what we were supposed to do and what was expected of us during a trail. Once that was done, a good amount of people got to leave due to hardship reasons. We were now down to 35 people. We were then led to the actual courthouse room. Immediately, all eyes drew towards the defense table, and then the aura of seriousness intensified. I just kept thinking, that is the person I may have to pass judgement on.
The judge was so nice and calming towards us, since most jurors tend to be first timers. Then we went one by one introducing ourselves based on a question sheet provided to us. It felt like the first day of a class, where no matter how outgoing a person was they became shy and timid just giving out this basic information. What surprised me the most, was the diversity in education. It was like a bell curve, with majority of people not even having a bachelors degree. Then the real personal questions started.
These mainly included questions that would make us as a jury unable to be fair and impartial to judging in this case. This particular case was a robbery of a convenient store. Thus we were all asked questions pertaining to our relationship: to the exact chain of convenient store, to being robbed, to feeling of individuals robbing establishments, and etc. Only two were excused based on their answers after this round. We were then sent out of the court room into the hallway. As we are standing there, I kid you not, the guy I presume was working that night showed up looking for the courtroom in his employer branded shirt. I'm standing there like "this guys about to get this case thrown out". I made it my mission to stand on the opposite side of the hallway of this guy the whole time, since I did not want to become biased if this guy opened up his mouth and started talking about the incident. We then were called in, and I was not picked. Which was a little disappointing since I wanted to experience of being a jury during a case.
It was overall quite the experience that I am sure I could handle in the future if I was called upon again.
For those that do not know, I started seeing a psychologist last year for issues stemming from anxiety that seemed to start to exacerbate once I stopped using tobacco. Since then, I have realized not only did I dip to mask emotions I was feeling but I also over indulged in drinking alcohol to mask those emotions. Now that I have been without both for a while, I have started to slowly get back into all the different situations where I would have traditionally used one or both to help cope with the vastness of the emotions I felt during those situations. It by far has not been easy, especially early on when I could not pin point what those emotions were. I recently started feeling some icky type emotions that I had never pinned down before, because I never sat on them. I always reacted, which typically ended bad for me. Unfortunately, I did not realize this till long after I reacted to a situation in the wrong way. The situations typically involved someone of the opposite gender that I found attractive. The reason I would start getting these icky emotions that I could not pin down was that I was always wondering where things stood in the friendship/relationship, instead of focusing on being in the now. Turns out the emotions I felt were that: I was scared because I was insecure in myself of the person I was suppose to be (what role do I play), I was scared that I was inadequate to this person in ways that were unknown to me (instead of trusting them to tell me), I felt scared I was becoming insignificant to them (even though there were no signs of such), and I was scared because I was confused how to handle it all. Not knowing these emotions led me to eventually ruining it with the person because I started to act like a crazy person. Life is full of complications that we have to either learn to deal with or move on. I am choosing to deal with it and figuring out how to cope with all that comes with it. Life is sure a journey that can be frustrating at times and hard to navigate when there was little guidance as a kid, but hopefully one day I will get a hang of it. So lucky to have great friends that have stuck by me even when I go "crazy".
Long story short, I had a meltdown within the last 24 hrs that has effected me for the most of the day today. The reasoning for this was of being unsuccessfully advocating for what I perceive, through countless hours of research and thought, to be the proper way to go about the next step for MY business with my advisers, who regardless of what I verbalize, is not enough reason to go ahead the way that I know is the next step for MY business that will benefit it the most, These type of meltdowns have been pretty common throughout my life and when the conditions, I calculated by knowing myself and contemplated everything about the situation for numerous hours, that will help me succeed the most are met, Guess what happens? I prove everyone wrong with what I am able to accomplish. I thought I would write down some examples.
Barrier: Writing for a reasonable amount of time
Proposed solution: OT telling me I HAVE to write with a certain grip,
Reason barrier was broken: Knowing that I had a deficiency that caused both hands to use muscles while writing I found the best grip that worked for me to succeed. To this day its still one of the oddest grips people encounter, but I have legible words and can write as long as needed.
Proposed solution: Attending social groups with other autistic individuals
Reason barrier was broken: I knew life experiences were better than planned interactions so I carefully watched others socialize before making attempts to connect plus started watching dramas to study facial expressions and subtle verbal clues. There were a lot of creepy interactions, but you live and you learn.
Barrier: Leaving Florida for college
Proposed solution: Stay in Florida, it will be easier
Reason barrier was broken: Due to some circumstances in high school I was done with Florida and just could not stand it anymore, if I was going to do anything in life I needed to leave so I took the Naval test and tested so well I was told I could have been anything in the Navy, told parents the results and was finally allowed to look at colleges out of state.
P.S.- I would not be where I am today if I did not leave Florida for college
Barrier: Raising GPA to join a Fraternity
Proposed solution: Take a lot of junk classes in a row to raise GPA
Reason barrier was broken: I knew I needed to focus on finding my calling first before trying to raise gpa so I worked my ass off when I finally got in MY major and was able to EARN my right to JOIN THE MOST HONORABLE SIGMA LAMBDA BETA FRATERNITY INTERNATIONAL.
P.S.- Would no where be the man I am today if I did not work for this. Went from a 2.1 to a 2.6
Barrier: Catching a football
Proposed solution: Your grip will increase with overall working out.
Reason barrier was broken: Knew that my grip would not just increase that easily due to barrier 1 so I worked my ass off to improve my grip by consistently training my grip through grip exercises.
Barrier: Writing my final college paper after moving from Tuscaloosa.
Proposed solution: You can write it anywhere
Reason barrier was broken: I knew I needed to be on my own with a computer that could not move. Once I got those things, paper was down very quickly.
What can you take from this?
When someone with special needs is self advocating for themselves, listen, try to understand, and never just say that's not the way to do it. They may not be able to communicate it properly, but it does not mean their reasoning is invalid or that they're incompetent in their reasoning or that their mind is stuck on a train track, you have no clue how many pathways were reasonably and logically closed before the only option left was the track they show you.
Last thoughts: In my profession, doing what I am doing, I will be advocating for myself my whole life and the only thing that will make it worth while is to know that younger generations will be listened to when they advocate for themselves.
When discussing the special needs community, its constantly being brought up how vulnerable this population is to individuals who may wish to do them harm, either physically or take advantage somehow. However, when it comes to services, activities, anything that sole purpose is to help and serve the special needs community, it is a constant that a organizations word can be trusted that they "have" to show these individuals having fun. For the most part this is a double standard, since most time the general population rarely has to sign their rights over for pictures used as promotional material. Instead, they use actors or individuals that work for the organization as fill ins, so they do not have to go through that trouble. With most of these services being only for the special needs community, it also means that HIPPA regulations are not being held in mind for this population. Example: If your a business that caters directly for individuals with special needs, automatically someone can guess a good portion of confidential medical information for an individual in the picture. Add that a business has an address, and I hope I do not have to do the math for you to know how easily a predator could end up taking advantage of someone just due to that little information. But, Wait, don't you have pictures of a couple of your clients? Yes, I do but these clients, without giving away anymore info, are the least I would worry about being taking advantage for reasons that I will not go into. And no, I don't just follow the rules because of Autism. I have on many counts broken rules. But this is definitely a integral piece of my business, that whether it helps or hurts me, I will stick by keeping my athletes information closed off as much as possible to the general public.
I guess I will sum this up by saying that if your signing a media form for an individual, put a little more thought into what all that could be at stake, just for people to see that they are having fun. HIPPA should be sacred for everyone, not just the general population and only held up to the proper standard by only doctors offices.
This also applies to parents/caregivers that are trying to spread awareness of their loved ones by constantly sharing videos and pictures of the everyday lives. I know I would not appreciate it if my parents did that when I was growing up.
When it comes to individuals with Autism, I feel like there are three categories that society places on a person to try to fit into in order to be "successful" as a person with Autism. These categories are either: Artistic; Intellect; and Advocate.
Can either mean: drawer/painter, acting, musician, singer, or combination.
Usually born able to do one of these things naturally, but often times individuals with HFA can be pushed/coerced into this category when it may not even be a talent they possess.
It usually starts off as a hobby (typically as "therapy", not to say the arts aren't therapeutic but shouldn't be pushed for an entire population), but then a sympathetic person will overly encourage bad drawings/performances in order to help lift a person spirits. In my opinion, this is one of those things most people with Autism would not understand and is actually kind of cruel. If a person isn't gifted in an area, that's fine. Not everyone is, and like everyone else it will not kill them to not encourage progressing to future events/ getting them to get commissions for their work. Everybody has a hobby that they do for fun and may not be good at but still gives them joy doing it and its fine to keep it that way.
Typically can actually range from "HFA to LFA" (high functioning autism to low functioning autism)
Example: I suck at singing but I still find joy in it and know that trying to do it at an event or for money is a waste of my time to become as successful as I can be. I will still sing my heart out if Backstreet Boys or NSYNC comes on the radio though LOL
This category typically are the individuals with such "HFA" and IQ that people tend to think they do not have a disability or need help in areas. They typically hold multiple degrees or on their way to. Are pushed into either computers or hard sciences. This is so that they can be isolated in either a science lab collecting data or working on a computer fixing problems from afar. People think the isolation will help people with issues with communicative disability. This is far from the truth, people become better socially if they are introduced to it daily.
The majority of these people will be satisfied with what they do in life and will silently succeed. Silently as in they will see no reason to share their diagnosis because maybe then someone will think of them differently or even treat them different. Unfortunately for most of these individuals they are unaware that people are already "aware" something is different about them and already do those things.
These are the individuals that need to speak up the most to give younger generations hope about their future.
Typically considered very "HFA"
These are the people that may or may not be highly intelligent but have been surrounded their whole lives with people not believing they could be anything in life other than maybe a good story. They overcome a vast amount of obstacles. but again may be pushed into advocacy/speaking because others may not "see" them doing anything else, which can lead the person with Autism not thinking that they can completely be a part of societies workforce. Some of them may have some really good advice to share, but eventually you will over saturate the speaking circuit and dampen the response to those truly talented for this area. Again, autistic individuals are pushed by sympathetic people looking to keep someones spirits up when the autistic person probably does not care either way and just wanted to share their story. Not being upfront in these situations is also damaging, in that actively trying to do this may become unfruitful long term.
Typically anywhere from middle of the road functioning to "HFA"
The majority of all of these people will more than likely be severely underpaid for their work, due to not knowing worth or being taken advantage of, unfortunately. That's for another time though.
Then you have the mold breakers, the people who may have started in one of the areas but for their own specific reasons decided that it be better to do their own thing.
What do you all think of this thought of categories that individuals with autism may or may not be pushed into by society?
I think so many times when a person is labeled as different due to a disability or disorder it can perseverate to a point that the individual will feel at times disconnected from their fellow humans. This can make someone feel so isolated to the point they start to think the thoughts and feelings they have and the things they experience are strictly only relatable to them. This can cause even bigger issues if the person doesn't share these thoughts or experiences due to that they have a communicative disability. But we have to understand that as humans, regardless of disability or disorder, we are all creatures that share the same emotions, thoughts, and experiences throughout our lives.
Geez, its been a while since I wrote on here. But with the month I've had, I think this will do me some good to write.
Lets bring back definitions if thats okay
The first definition for sympathy that comes up is feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune, While empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
So why am I bringing this up?
Because I believe the vast majority of people try to have sympathy for those with disabilities rather than empathy. The main reason people do not even try to empathize with people with disabilities is because we are seen as different and possible do not have the same feelings when it comes to navigating life. The fact is that ALL HUMANS think and have certain feelings when it comes to life regardless of a disability in this world. Just think of it this way, if suddenly you became disabled, would you want people to feel bad for your condition or just treat you like they did before you were disabled. The majority of people would vote for the latter.
If you can not understand just ask, its that simple and more than likely will not offend anyone.
This took a lot less time and words than I thought today, but maybe as I work out scheduling for interviews for the podcast, I may write a little more.
Since its been awhile, I thought I just start back with a simple update on where I am right now in life.
I took a hiatus from writing here to focus on my paper to graduate for my Masters, and as of now I have just finished the first revision of that paper and am waiting for replies on it to revise it again and hopefully be done with this so I can officially graduate in December.
My business is steady increasing. I have gained probably about 4 or 5 since I stopped writing. Each client is so fantastic and each are making major strides to improved health. I have also made some videos and got some pictures done for it.
Check it out here:
I have accepted to speak at CARDS annual Florida state conference in February of next year and I will be talking about my paper and some other thoughts on Autism and Exercise. Go here to check it out.
I continue to meet more and more great individuals to help me on my journey. Cant wait to see how this year will end out being like.
I recently quit using a form of tobacco that I used to self medicate with. I do plan to try to figure out other options with my doctor since my anxiety attacks and stress built on my body has increased.
Every now and then in one of the social media groups I am a part of, an individual will ask for advice or vent and then state that they are undiagnosed. I usually just think this is odd, but recently I decided to think about the implications of people not getting formally diagnosed but going around stating that they have Autism, without truly knowing what may be the unique situation, and how this affects those that are formally diagnosed. (Not meaning to not allow them into these online groups but taking it a step further than that)
How could someone be undiagnosed but state that they have something when they really do not know? Well, one can obviously look at the symptoms of Autism and compare themselves or others they know and if some things line up then just decide this sounds right and go with it and not go through the whole diagnose process. There are also some quizes out there that act as informally diagnostic criteria (they state to not use to diagnose, but really why make it?) and make statements where you agree or disagree with the statement. The problem with this is that many adults are very aware of tests like these and know how "cheat" the system. I am personally horrible at these tests because I usually know the answer to guide the results to what I want them to be. These are probably the biggest ways someone could think that they are on the Spectrum without getting or needing a diagnosis.
Now onto the issues of not being formally diagnosed when it comes to this population. There are two huge consequences to accepting possible self diagnosed individuals.
The first consequence that could be seen by accepting undiagnosed individuals is it would become a fall back for anyone who was trying to excuse certain behavior that is deemed unacceptable by society. The reason this could happen is that there is a major push from some individuals to treat everyone on the Spectrum the same and that all the behavior from individuals on the Spectrum should be excused and given no consequences from them. This can be a really bad combo for any society in the world.
The second consequence that could be seen is individuals trying to take advantage of the social security system. Due to numerous other possible conditions some individuals on the Spectrum may not be able to earn a livable wage and thus need ssi to help support them to live independently. If self diagnosis is allowed, then more and more people may try to take advantage of the system and not contribute to society.
These are just things I came up with on a whim and will never happen, I just like to fully think things through. These are also some reasons why I am huge on going through the diagnosis process even if there is a small amount of thought that someone might be on the Spectrum.
In the past few weeks, I been thinking about what a developmental disability really means. I have come to a conclusion and astonishingly many people in the community do not even know this or consider it. So before I go into detail, I am going to give more definitions.
if Develop is to acquire gradually
and Development is the state of being developed (gradually acquired)
then Developmental is of, relating to, or being development ( the state of being gradually acquired)
and if Disability is impaired function or ability
then Developmental + Disability is an impaired function or ability to be gradually acquired
From just the definitions taken from a dictionary. It is pretty obvious that a developmental disability only impairs a function or ability to gradually be acquired, it does not state if/how the function or ability can/will or when it can be acquired. So it can be easily seen as too why many people with a developmental disability could end up with more than one, since if one function/ability is impaired/delayed then it can directly affect other functions/abilities.
Ex. If a child has Autism (the impaired ability to properly communicate) then it can directly affect a childs ability to properly acquire intellectual ability, since humanity learns majorly through communication in the early parts of life to acquire the skills needed to learn on your own (like reading).
But I want to speak more on the if/how and when part of the impairment. Many people forget that throughout roughly the first thirty years of life an individual is continually developing. Whether it is intellectually, socially, emotionally, or physically. Even though many experts may argue this, I am mainly just going to go off of what has been determined physically, since all the others have seen numerous outliers. And the fact that I know I have personally grown more intellectually, socially, and emotionally in the past 7-8 years than I had the first two decades of my life. Since every disability (impairment) is different the if and when part of acquiring the ability or function will never be concrete. It should also be noted that during these first thirty years, it can be said that at any time the disability could present itself since during this time you are continually developing. Also since you are continually developing at a non gradual rate, there will be major ups and downs that you often see within an individual with this kind of disability. All too often do I hear individuals talking about major regressions or seeing progressions beyond what was thought capable and not every understanding what really is happening. Hopefully this helps some people better understand a developmental disability.
I have to rant for a little bit as well and it deals with Vaccines. If your fed up with reading the Autism and Vaccine debate your not alone. I read it every day and every day all I think about is that there are people out there that see me as a scientific experiment instead of a natural evolution of mankind, whether you see this evolution as good or bad is up to you, but we are all in sense a evolved form from our parents in hopes of creating a more advanced individual with an increased chance of survival.
I see these posts about my child changed after vaccines. Well lets state some facts. A person normally starts to walk around 12-18 months, when leg muscles have developed enough for the individual to stand with their weight on just one leg at a time. To effectively move and adventure into the newfound space will take an individual some time to gain more muscle to grow. By this time a person starts receiving vaccines, which can be said to be correlated to the time a person initially starts trying to be more independent, a major time of development. If a person that for the majority of their short existence in life was spent laying around collecting cues and data, it would not be hard to tell a regression during this time if a child did not proper collect those important cues and data during the time spent stationary. The majority of the cues are socially related which means if a child has Autism it will most likely appear during the first stages of that persons attempt towards independence.
I am big on that as a living creature, we can pick up on others views/cues of us, whether there is a disability or not. So what do you think will happen with an individual when you, as a parent, are always thinking "this is no longer my child" after vaccinations. They will not think they are wanted and thus not try to be better because the people closest to them do not feel that they belong. This is not mutual to loving that individual, so you can still love them without thinking they are "your child".
I am also big on that everyone has a purpose in life, and it may take a person a lifetime to understand that purpose but everyone has one. I believe mine is to help out this population in improving their lives through exercise, even if it may not be. All too often people with disabilities are seen as not having a purpose to their lives which can ruin them emotionally to the point where they do not want to "live within society"( future blog post reference), so if you are sending off vibes that they are not even "your child", how do you think that will affect their purpose?
Another April has come. April has been known as Autism Awareness month for almost three decades now. I thought I share some of the things that pop up in my news feed a lot during this month from the Autism community.
1. Autism speaks is a organization that hates people with Autism. To go into full detail for this thought process is a whole other blog post. (hopefully in a week or so)
2. Applied Behavior Analysis is a horrible practice. Already wrote on this topic a little bit, but it comes down to a few people who should have not been dealing with this population being put under extremely stressful situations that did not make the best of the situation. These events have caused for some to call that ABA can cause PTSD and other anxiety related disorders as well as being abusive practice. I even read once that compared ABA strategies to that of training household pets. There sure is some strange things out there. applied-behavior-analysis.html
3. Acceptance not Awareness. The main thought behind this is to stop trying to change individuals with Autism to be nuerotypical and accept these individuals as is. This goes along with number 2. The fact remains that even when as I am labeled as a higher functioning individual with Autism, I have had numerous people find out that I have Autism give me weird looks because they are not completely aware. Also wrote more about this in another post. awareness-or-acceptance.html
4. Vaccines cause Autism or Vaccines do not cause Autism. Another previous blog post. I am still unsure why this is even still a prevalent debate. We have both sides correlate the the research they know to argue there side. The research tell us that the only one research article that held any substantial prove that vaccines cause Autism was retracted by the scientific community and the author. The research also tells us that a small percentage of the population can be injured by vaccines. These are two separate topics. Can vaccines cause injury within a small percentage of the population? Yes. Do vaccines cause Autism? Not at all. On a side note: Stating that people with Autism are the subjects of a experiment gone wrong rubs those individuals the wrong way. the-big-myth.html
All these topics are discussed in length in numerous blog posts stating they are truth. However coming to know this population better in the past couple years, I think I can say that some of these beliefs are based on such a small amount of cases drawn into a bigger ordeal due to a mob mentality that comes from trusting people with the same condition only based on that you share the same condition and not who the person really is.
For those who do not know much about ABA, I will start off by defining junk behavior. Junk behavior is typically known as any behavior that has the main purpose for gaining attention, whether the attention gained is bad or good. The theory to get rid of junk behavior is to ignore it, unless it is harming a person and or property. This is behind the thought that anything given attention, whether good or bad, will be repeated to replicate the attention given by the behavior. Like a lot of people when introduced to ABA, I thought that these ideas can only be used when dealing with individuals that have unique ways of thinking. Yea, I was wrong. Then one day on social media, it came across to me that all the posts I have ever seen on social media are junk behavior. That the reason why you see your friends and acquaintances post crazy stuff, is to get that extra like or start a debate. So in theory all that internet trolls are, are people exhibiting this junk behavior and we all fell for it. So much that we even elected an internet troll as our president. Heck even me writing a blog is junk behavior, because it is not necessarily needed, but only really to get people to read about my life and comment on it. I just thought this was interesting enough to write a short post about.
This week has been absolutely bonkers for me. It started on Sunday when my grandmother died (Step-dads mom), which meant I was in charge of getting things ready for our family for the trip, since my parents were already out of town to be with her in her last days. This meant organizing the clothes for four people including myself, which were already picked out, thank goodness. It also meant being in charge of my step-brother. For those that do not know me, my step-brother has a slew of his own disorders. Most days for him can be hit or miss, but this death seemed to really take a toll on him, which just added to the stress of traveling and ensuring that I did not miss anything in the packing process. Packing was a breeze, but then I miscalculated traffic on the way to pick him up on the day of travel, thus forcing my hand in travel speed on the way back to ensure the time frame did not get messed up too bad. Being on time is huge for me and its something I take pretty serious and a serious cause for some of my stress when unexpected delays happen. Besides trying to get my attention off the road a few times, my step-brother was pretty pleasant and calm on the drive. He did not start acting up till we arrived at a predetermined spot to get a ride to the airport when there was someone else to talk to was in the picture. Once we got to the airport, the jokes directed at strangers and workers started. The jokes them-selves are harmless, but you never know when the joke may cross a perceived inappropriate line and end him up in trouble, where someone who is in charge over him is completely horrible at confrontation and will not do the situation any good if it goes south. I am not saying that it ever will, but as someone who overthinks every single scenario it is hard not to think about it happening. We finally got to our gate with no issues, besides that I think my step-brother might be made of metal nowadays lol. My step-brother does have some tics that at times can cause people to stare and then look at who he is with to try to get him to stop. This lead to a staring contest between me and an older gentleman for at least a minute or so, some people and their nerves nowadays huh.
We get on the flight and I started to settle a little bit, since I knew I had a drink to look forward to on the way. Unfortunately the plane ride was too bumpy for that. So now the day is three quarters over and I have yet to have any sort of reprieve of this anxiety, knowing that once we land and get to the airport I need to somewhat socialize with everyone there, since it has been a while since I have seen this side of the family. We land and I end up getting nasty coffee #1 of the trip. We get to the hotel and I end up getting nasty coffee #2 thus finally quite trying to get some caffeine in my system and end up drinking a couple beers before dinner to take a little edge off. We get to the restaurant with no issues, even though there is over 25 in our party. As many may know that has been to a restaurant with that many people, mistakes are bound to happen and it is going to take time for all the food to get out. Unfortunately for us, the mistakes were made on my step-brothers meal, who then proceeds to get an attitude based "on principle" he says. This "broke the camels back" for me. I tried to reason with him a little then I put a reasonable tip on the table then got up and left. We ended the night by going to pick up some items that unfortunately where left behind and some tobacco for me that I had not had since that morning. Even though taking a whole day off is not going to be offset by the use of it I could in the rest of the night. That ended day one of our trip.
The next morning, which was the day of the funeral, was going to be long already since we were flying back home that night. I got some coffee the night before to make so that maybe I could have some good coffee for a change. It ended up being nasty coffee #3 of the trip, but I had no other option for caffeine so I made due. Not the best start of the day. Me and my sister end up taking a car service to the funeral, that took an extra trip to get to since the first trip was the wrong address. The funeral all together was wonderful. Great speeches, musician and singers. However I never have truly grasped how to act at a funeral and am always kind of on edge with all the people there that I do not know. I also had to be alert in case I got put in charge of my step-brother again. This anxiousness felt by both these caused some running around from one immediate family member to the next trying to avoid encounters with new people. On top of all this anxiousness, I was to meet some girl my dad thought I should meet, that knew about me, still wanted to meet me, had interest in working with children on the Spectrum, and to my amazement was quite pretty(understatement in my opinion). The second I saw her, I knew that she was the one I was intended to be introduced to. However that pressure and anxiety was going to be just too much for the situation of a funeral for me, so another reason to go from family member to family member to avoid that anxiety entirely. Looking back it, I was going to be anxious either way. Needless to say I avoided the introduction successfully, but not without gaining above threshold anxiety afterword. After the funeral, the immediate family all went to have lunch together and my family changed to airport clothes to get ready for our flight. While checking into the airport a short time later, I learned that we not only printed our own tickets but also put the tags on our luggage. This plus trying to claim tickets and dealing with non-stop talking from my step-brother and a airline helper trying to tell me how to do the luggage tags right plus all the overthinking about the funeral situation and previous day just put me over the edge. I got it all done and then after we got through security, I just took off to the bathroom and go to the gate by myself. We ended up at a bar to wait for our flight, so I drank a couple drinks to try to chill out a little. After that, I still needed a little time to myself to deal with everything and thus sat at our gate by myself till almost boarding. Once on the plane, I finally could relax for a little bit. However, I could not stop thinking of the opportunity that I missed earlier that day and combined with all the stress I broke down a couple times on the flight home and managed to keep it together when we got back till I retrieved my car to return to my apartment. I broke down again due to all the stress. I have also had a few breakdowns since then.
This experience, even though it was very tough on me, proved that even though I was on the brink of numerous meltdowns that I could do it. Would I do things differently next time? Definitely, but you can never know where to go from if you never have gone there in the first place.
This is not meant to diminish the funeral of a great women who raised my step-dad, just to tell my story of a crazy few days that might forever help me improve further in this process called life while being dealt with the the cards that are my life.
As many of you all know, I got the privilege to speak at a Autism Even last night titled, Autism and Employability. Besides speaking in class about particular subject topics, it was my first time in front of complete strangers talking about my story. I was thinking at the most twenty to thirty people attending. Turned out to what seemed to be over forty people, so many there was almost not enough standing room in the designed room for the talk. Even before seeing this amount of people I had been on nerves end since the previous night at around midnight when someone in my complex closed/opened a door quite violently and thus ruined any chances of me entering REM sleep. I got to the event early to try to mentally prepare but my socks where already soaked from the drive over. As time got closer to the event, I felt myself start to pace and fidget, something I have not done in a while. I am also sure I twirled a few times without noticing it as well. Eye contact probably was horrible, but I could not have cared less.
When it was time for me to speak, I started to forget everything I had practiced. Within my first sentence I had to restart, not a very good confidence builder. I continuously tried to scan the crowd every few seconds, but every time I did I found myself forgetting where I was in my speech. At times, it felt like I was up there forever, when in fact it was short due to leaving out some information. After I was done, the audience gave me a huge applause which was greatly appreciated but I felt like just getting out of there to get my mind right.
Turns out that my speech was a huge hit. During the question portion of the night numerous people had comments on how much my speech touched them and helped them have hope for their little ones. This made all the wet socks and pit sweat worth it. That just standing up and telling my story to people in public helped them. It also reminds me why I keep on pushing my own barriers. That is to help others that have been diagnosed after me to see that the diagnosis is not the end point in ones life, but only the beginning.
Once the event came to an end, I got the opportunity to be interviewed by a television company. I was still so wound up by the event that I do not remember exactly when it will be aired lol. This was easier than the event, even though I had to restart on the first answer I gave.
Overall this was a great experience for me and my company. Thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the people at the event.
Throughout my years, I have had numerous social interactions with some ending good, others not so well. I thought I would make a list for others wondering how I typically go about when it comes to social situations.
Many Individuals on the Spectrum deal with something that affects everything they do that may seem "different" from the rest of society. This is the sensitivity or inhibition of anywhere to one to five of the five senses that our brain processes on a daily basis that allows our brain to understand the world in relation to our body and our body in relation to the overall safety of the entire system that is our body.
Some background information. Everytime we hear, taste, feel, smell, and see something there is a sensory nerve that relays that message to our brain to process it and determine what that sensation is. Nuerotypical people brains have an inept ability that once a sense has been recognized and is deemed to be not a threat, shuts down the particular sensory nerves relaying this message in order for the brain to process other things that are deemed more important.
When it comes to those on the Spectrum, this ability has been disrupted somehow. It can be that the message is constantly relayed, either at the same rate, a stronger strength or even not relayed at all/barely relayed. The first two are what we come to know as sensory sensitivity and the later what is known as sensory inhibition. Now to give an anology, since analogies is probably one of the easiest ways for my mind to understand things thus make it the easiest way to describe things.
Think of a motion sensored light. This will be our sensory nerve. Movement that turns the light on could be anything pertaining to the five senses. Normally once a movement is noticed the light turns on, then after a while turns off knowing that either the threat or need for the light has left. However imagine a motion sensored light that blinks on and off everytime the slightest movement occured and it could not be turned off no matter what. It would be a non stop light show. That what its like for a person who has a same rate sensory sensitivity. Now imagine the same situation but 50x stronger. That how people with an stronger strength same rate sensory sensitivity feel everyday. Now imagine the motion sensored light only turned on when you moved one centimeter next to it if at all. Thats what a person with a sensory inhibition deals with daily.
I personally have a same rate sensory sensitivity to a couple of my senses. Mainly sound and smell. I learned very early on that if something bothered me that I should just leave the area and was fortunate enough to be able to do so growing up. This did cause me to misunderstand that these sensitivities I had were in fact only unique to me and that everybody else around me did not feel the way I did about those things. This misunderstanding comes from another aspect of being on the Spectrum, lack of communication skills in order to search if these oddities of my life experiance were shared universally.
I have been able to know some people with either a stronger strength same rate sensory sensitivity or sensory inhibition. I can say that even with a somewhat increased knowledge of whats going on, I can not begin to imagine anything close to what they might be going through on a daily basis and what it takes for them to just have a "good" day.
Would love some feedback on my analogy and if it makes sense or not.(NT)
Would love some feedback on my analogy and if it sounds correct with sensory sensitivities.(People on the Spectrum)
Throughout our lives we live with stress and each person deals with stress in their own particular ways. For those on the Spectrum, most of how stress is dealt with has been termed stimming. This post is neither about how to deal with stress or what dealing with stress may be termed. I wanted to share a short post on the mere fact that many on the Spectrum also live with some sort of stress disorder and what it looks like in comparison to a neurotypical person.
As this graph shows (made to show comparisons, not accurate or backed by science), many people on the Spectrum do not have a lot of wiggle room before they end up having a meltdown compared to a neurotypical person. This graph assumes a person on the Spectrum has a stress disorder coupling with decreased level of stress needed to cause a meltdown. The graph percentages are based off the neurotypical persons stress percentages, since every ones perception of stress varies and to show that people on the Spectrum have a increased level of daily stress compared to a neurotypical person. So what can be determined from this graph?
It can be said that due to stress disorders/ stress from known deficits, people on the Spectrum can have a higher level of stress during a normal day thus any added stress could cause a meltdown, unlike a neurotypical person, who may need a few more stress related instances to produce a meltdown.
I wanted to go into further detail today of something I mentioned in a previous post. That is that when trying to advocate for one population of a society that is being marginalized that it is imperative to not demean or shun another population in the society that is also marginalized. What do I mean by this?
Lets say a person starts advocating for individuals with Autism, because they believe that the support for these individuals is not enough for this population to live fulfilling and meaningful lives. However this person is very religious and that religion states that homosexuality is a sin and the person believes that marriage is only between a man and a woman and should not be aloud to homosexual couples. The person makes this known publicly, thus shunning another population of society. What this person may not know, is now they are not advocating for individuals with Autism, because not all individuals with Autism are going to be heterosexual. They are essentially saying you have to be in this box to receive support (in this case, marriage) to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. I will give you one more example if you still might be confused.
Another person starts advocating for individuals with Autism for the same reasons as the person above. However whenever a minority race of a society speaks up about injustices towards them, such as Black Lives Matter, this person responds with repeatedly commenting with all lives matter or blue lives matter. Thus no longer advocating for individuals with Autism, because they are essentially saying that race has no importance to how a person is treated in a society. When the individuals they are advocating for have to deal with the injustices of their race everyday as well as the injustices brought on by the stigma of having Autism.
Both of these people support a cause but end up putting themselves before the cause, instead of the population they set out to help. These people end up minimizing any type of advances they hope to make for the population they want to help.
Ever since I could remember, this is what I have been given as a response when I first tell someone, I know, that I have Autism. After this is said, I have never felt comfortable afterwords, possibly because I know how I can come across at times and how my actions could easily be perceived as "different" at times. I think since its also to the fact that I can notice the subtle signs more easily due to knowing what others could be feeling during certain situations I have been through before and know how I reacted to those situations. I personally do not mind being told this as a response to me opening up about my Autism, because unlike others, I view it as a chance to educate those who may be educated on a very specific look of Autism but may be ignorant to how vast the Spectrum is in how it looks and how it affects everyone differently.
I guess most people still have images of Rain Man or someone who is very violent and anti-social when they hear the word Autism or Autistic. Which in reality, can not be farther from the truth when describing individuals with Autism.
Just thought I share something short and sweet today.
I grew up in a Nuerotypical world. I was given a few more chances in certain areas but for the most part if I did something socially unacceptable, I was held accountable. Not to make me more nuerotypical but to make me more able to handle this vast society we live in that has many rules one must go by in order to obtain some level of success in life.
Then I decided to travel down the path I am on now. One that has lead me to enter the thoughts and opinions of others that share the same thing as me, that being on the Autism Spectrum. Nearly a year ago, I started being a part of numerous social media groups full of individuals with Autism. For a while there, I was shocked by this new culture that I had been a part of but now just entered. I was shocked mainly by all the negativity by what it seemed to be the majority of individuals in this culture. Some of them shared some of what I had gone through, but by more who had vastly different experiences than me. A lot of them have the right to be angry, due to personal experiences dealt with during their lifetime. However there are some, who appear to be higher function (that they do not need care around the clock) that are just angry.
These groups say they are for support, but mainly it seems that the only support you will end up getting is attacked for having a view that does not follow the us vs. them mentality against Nuerotypicals or even a parent ranting about their child to others who might feel how they feel some times. An example of the before, would be like today, when a question was posted about what people thought about the symbol of the Autism puzzle piece. For the record, a good amount of individuals on the Spectrum are disgusted by the symbol. The reasoning is that many think that the puzzle piece was created to mean that something was missing from us on the Spectrum. Which is plausible knowing some of the history of how people with Autism have been viewed, but I have not come across any definite source for this, just hearsay. Well if you know me, I got a Autism Puzzle Piece tattoo on my back when I was younger to help me socialize more in college with random people. I did not know of this speculation until recently, but I still really like it and what it means to me. I posted my thoughts about the topic, not thinking it would be controversial when I posted. I was wrong, someone shortly after baited me by saying a definite statement that all people on the Spectrum despise the puzzle piece. I asked why and got bombarded by links to why its wrong and that society should accept the neurodiversity symbol, which is that rainbow colored infinity symbol on the main page of this site. I tried to debate that the puzzle piece already is universally recognized as the symbol of Autism and that no matter why it was made, we can make our own reasoning's for it. Like many other times, I also stated that no one outside of these message boards knew what the nuerodiversity symbol was. Well shortly after I asked the reasoning for a change, the post got deleted. For reasons, I do not know. The latter situation happened once when a parent simply posted that she hated Autism. She was immediately berated for this statement by comments like "oh you hate your child, your a horrible person". Really, a parent was going through a really tough period with her kid and that is how you react? I know for sure I hate Autism sometimes, does it mean that I hate myself, no, it just means I get frustrated with a certain part of myself, which everyone feels at times during their lives.
This comes from a group of people who demand acceptance before awareness of their disorder, but even the most dedicated advocates do not truly understand some of the issues that come from the other side when it comes to interactions with individuals with Autism. These people also want to be called Autistic, like that it the one thing that defines them and their whole life. These people truly adopted the us vs. them mentality, that if your Autistic you could never know what we're going through but will not dialogue about how the real world operates and the expectations of the real world, which requires every person to change and confirm a little bit. This group also uses the statement "Nothing for us, without us", trying to push away well intended people from helping them, but do not go out of their rooms to the real world to solve the issues they want changed.
For the most part you can say I am not a popular voice for many in these message boards because I chose to navigate the world as a person first and thus understand there are rarely any black and white situations in life and can contemplate both sides of the table as feasible opinions and thoughts. I still have times when I get this angry about things, but I have come to learn it is okay to be mad sometimes but after that I need to analyze the whole situation to grasp what happened and where I stayed on the track too long.
I decided to write about this because I think it is necessary to see a different side of things that some of you reading this might not know about these interactions within this subculture. Which happens in every subculture I have been accepted into in my brief life.
There is a major division between many on the Spectrum and the rest of society that I hope I can help bring closer together in my life.
Life is not meant to be easy, because if it was not, how fun would that be.
I have been seeing this word come up lately when it comes to posts about children with Autism. These posts manly come from individuals on the Spectrum. They say compliance training should not be done on this population. That it completely takes away their right to say no. These individuals are usually ones that harbor sour feelings towards a society and world that does not understand them and one they have yet to try to understand.
Before I get into this I am someone who growing up learned the hard way of this word, and my compliance now is based off numerous interactions with authority figures who both were right and who were wrong. To me growing up, compliance was based off of who was right, not what an authority figure said for me to do. This thinking not only got me in trouble a lot of the times but it made me realize the harsh truth of compliance.
The harsh truth is that everybody has to comply to a certain degree or they end up in jail/prison or worse. Whether or not what you think is right or just. Authority figures do not want you to comply just because they say so, but because ultimately it is in their minds what is best for you and what will most likely be what is safest as well. This is not to say to completely comply with everything that an authority figure tells you, but to know that in a messed up world we live in that sometimes it does not matter if something else is right than what you are told.
Compliance is necessary part of learning. If you want to grow as a person, it is necessary. You can not learn of when to comply versus when not to if you never learn to comply in the first place.
Probably over ninety percent of people have had compliance training as a kid, no matter how different you may be from everyone else. If someone wants a degree, they must comply to that institutions rules in order to obtain one. If someone wants a job, they must comply to their bosses wishes. If someone wants to be in a platonic or romantic relationship, they must comply to the wishes of others. If one wants to be free, they must comply to the laws of that land. However, when a person reaches these stages in life, they usually have also been taught when it is not okay to just comply to an authority figures wishes.
Telling people to not have compliance training to an ever growing population will, in the end, ruin so many lives. I was very lucky to be born with the privilege I was born with or else I might not be here today to write about my thoughts and experiences to you all, people reading this, looking to learn more about Autism.
Do I think there are people on the Spectrum not capable of learning the second aspect of compliance? I sure do, but with how the world likes to categorize whose life means more in this world based on numerous option-less charecteristics , I see compliance as a way to keep this population away from harm as much as possible with the people who do understand the second aspect to work on making the world a better and safer place for everyone.
Looking back at all the places I thought I would be in life right now in terms of a job, I never thought that I would one day soon be venturing out on my own creating my own niche in society. I had dreams of when I was young of being a professional athlete. Those dreams ended when I figured out I had very poor coordination and could not grow taller than 5 feet and 8 inches. I started out my college career wanting to be in criminal justice and graduated with a degree in exercise science. This was due to the fact that if you become a F.B.I. agent, one has to spend time in Virginia(if you know me that would be WAY TOO DANG COLD) and I took a lot of sport electives and could not pass the math needed for a business degree. My first taste of the real world consisted of a job as a stock associate at a grocery store, where towards the end I kept butting heads with management and quit due to fear of these altercations getting me fired, and a very early morning desk attendant for a factory gym, where I quit since I was accepted into Graduate school and the hours where taking their toll on me. In grad school, I had visions of working for some premier training facility for athletes working with professional athletes get bigger, stronger, and faster. Then life threw wrench in my life. I got a email three weeks after graduation saying that I had not actually graduated, that I needed to complete three more hours. This really shook me up, since I was planning to move back home the next month and take a exam to get my strength and conditioning certification a week before that. I still ended up moving but without having this coveted certification in the exercise world, due to lack of concentration being allowed to put towards the exam. I got back home degree-less and certification-less. This devastated me to the point I could not figure out what my next step would truly be since a lot was contingent on those two things, in my mind. I fortunately got to an opportunity to intern for a ABA company that worked with kids on the Autism Spectrum. I hesitantly took it, since at that time I had met very, very few people like me, let alone kids. After a week or so of getting to know these therapists and the kids they worked for I saw how much just my experiences and the way I thought could truly give these kids a voice when they might not have one. So I took a job shortly after as a behavior assistant with the same company, since I did not mind learning more about this line of work and it allowed me to pay the bills while I got to play with kids. All the while, still looking for a way to get back on top of my goals. After almost a year living in my parents house, I finally got to a point to where I could move out. Step one done, in my mind. Step two was to complete my degree. Well guess what, as of now that wrench is still there. So instead of wallowing this time around, I am going to move forward with my other goals, which has now changed to not just continuing to write my blog that helped me gather my thoughts but also to working with the Autism population as a fitness specialist utilizing the few things I have learned working in the ABA field while helping parents and others on the Spectrum realizing that the diagnosis is not a death note just a starting block. I can not sit here and say that I am not completely scared of what may come of this new venture or that it will positively and absolutely be the right thing for me. However, I can be proud that even when the biggest wrench of my life was thrown at me, that I found a way to move forward and continue forging on the path that I believe is best for me. Because staying stagnant in this ever changing world would mean that this world, that is so alien to me, wins.
Applied Behavior Analysis aka ABA is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. Once it is understood how the environment may be impacting a certain individual and their behavior then an ABA therapist uses methods of learning catered to that specific individual while using specific motivators to ensure said individuals learn. These motivators are typically reinforcers that will help a individual want to learn more, even if said individual may not think they are learning. To put this in simpler terms, when an individual with Autism is learning a skill such as brushing teeth, they may get Ipad time when the task is completed. An example for a neurotypical may be something like getting straight A's on their report card and getting to go eat at their favorite restaurant.
So in a status update I posted on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/throughtheseautisticeyes) I stated that this is a somewhat controversial topic within the Autism Community. This is due to some misconceptions about ABA and some truths about some rare cases within the field.
A misconception is that ABA tries to cure/change your child to society norms. This can be farther from the truth. No matter what someone tells you, you can not cure Autism. You can help a person deal with the issues that may arise due to miscommunication. But what about changing stimulating behavior. From my standpoint, and now I can not speak for the entire field but I was taught any stim is acceptable unless when it is necessary to take away the stimulating behavior that it does not cause problematic behavior. So say a kid with Autism is in a special needs classroom and starts to rock back and forth as a stimulating behavior, but there are kids in that class that have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and can not focus on what they are suppose to do because they can not take their eyes off of the kid that is rocking back and forth. What would be easier: to teach the kid with ADHD to pay attention or to teach the kid with Autism to stim in another way? In my experience, it is way easier to teach the kid with Autism another coping behavior that will cause less issues in the classroom. I recently read a story of a very intelligent mother, who did not want ABA for her kids on the Spectrum, because of this notion that the therapists will change her kids. The thing she did not want to change about her kids was their sensory need to strip naked in random places, even at a park, or not wear long socks (let alone any socks) in the winter. She somehow thought these things should be accepted of her children. However, in our world if a kid is butt naked in a public place it is highly likely that said kid will draw some unnecessary attention from some bad people and possibly get the kid kidnapped. The not having socks on is not as big of a deal, except that as a parent you are responsible for your kids welfare and if said kid gets hurt or frost bite, because you thought it be okay. Are you more worried about the kids welfare at that point or just fearful of the aftermath of making your kid do something that will protect them?
Before I get to my personal thoughts about ABA, I want to talk about a little rough subject. That subject is the abuse of people with special needs within ABA. I have heard that due to ABA therapy some people on the Spectrum were abused under the supervision of someone who thought they were practicing ABA or found to have had PTSD due to this therapy. This is not the outcome of ABA in general. This is the outcome of uneducated, underpaid individuals who are not properly trained how to deal with people with special needs on a daily basis and for long hours everyday. This by no means, is trying to justify some of the horrors individuals with special needs can go through with any type of therapy. Just felt the need to say that ABA by no means is intentionally or unintentionally set up to abuse individuals with special needs.
Being a part of a particular population, one gets to see everybody else that is in that populations thoughts about certain topics. ABA comes up pretty frequently in the groups I am a part of on Facebook. One stance for against ABA, is that it is demeaning to those on the Spectrum. This stance comes from the progression of tasks that ABA uses to teach. However, more times than not these are individuals who are higher IQ but fail to see that everyone on the Spectrum is not the same as them. They also fail to see that every single person learns in progression of any certain task and that some individuals may have barriers that prevent them from learning a required skill all at once that someone else might not need so many progressions. These individuals have the best interest at heart but have closed themselves off to completely understanding how different people are and how different others learn at a fundamental level.
Now on to my thoughts of ABA. I will try to keep this as general as possible. ABA can work wonders for those on the Spectrum, the amount of progress I have been able to witness, not just my clients but others as well, in the year I worked is beyond amazing. However ABA is based off of soft science. What does that mean? It means that since not everyone thinks and learns the same way because our minds are different, that there is no one true methodology. This is that even using science backed methods, that there are so many that in the time a child is with a therapist, the correct method may never be found before a new therapist comes in and the process starts all over. Another issue I faced is that some therapists often see a maladaptive behavior and if they cannot find the environmental issue right away then they can tend to just write it off as an individual as maladaptive and almost a lost cause, when in fact the issue was simpler than they thought. I initially thought this with one of my clients after first working with this individual but after a couple months with said client, I cleared my mind and did the behavior until I realized what the root of the issue was. Another issue that I fortunately did not see thanks to working for such a great company, is the whole working for only the paycheck and going through the motions without much care that their client is in fact a breathing human being that is just that and not something to be studied all the time. This fact is why there are people out there with bad experiences with ABA. It truly takes special people to be able to work with in this field and have their heart in it completely and I completely love them for that.
Lastly, I believe ABA may not be for everyone on the Spectrum since you are not going to get a great therapist for every child and that some individuals just will not need it. Now you know a little bit about ABA and my thoughts, what thoughts of ABA do you all have?
One of the many topics that come up in social media groups is how people want to be identified as when it comes to their diagnoses. That is to be an Autistic person or a person with Autism. While the majority of the special needs population considers using the person first language is best, the thoughts within a decent amount of individuals on the Spectrum is to have the diagnosis first. It personally does not matter on an individual level which one someone chooses to prefer, but what message are you sending people unaware of your condition.
Saying that you are Autistic falsely puts people on the edge of their seat, since most people envision the worst about this different-order. It can also put yourself at a disadvantage to being the best you can be in this life. Ever hear of the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Well it says if you think about something so hard and so long, it will be so. So how will someone ever realize their full potential if they want their deficits to be in the forefront of who they are in life. This is not to say that their are not positives to being a person the Autism Spectrum, there are. I still have this issue of saying "Why try this or that, your Autistic." at times in my life and guess what, those are the times I will not even try because I do not think I can change. That the process will always repeat itself and it does because I am too afraid to even try. However the times I just push through end up being some of the best things that have happened in my life.
I like to be referred as a person with Autism. This is because even though being an individual on the Spectrum, many of my feats in life are more important to my character as a person than something that was a diagnose that I got sixteen years ago. So with all that time has passed and all the work I have put in gets diminished the second someone hears that of my diagnose and fail to see the person I am and who I have become in my short life. I am so much more than a diagnosis. I am: highly educated (3 hrs away from Masters degree); a member of a lifetime fraternity of brothers that I could trust with my life; a certified personal trainer; a certified scuba diver (though I might need a touch up class if I want to go in the future); well traveled;a movie and TV show connoisseur; a countless varsity Letterman in high school sports (track, football, soccer, and swimming), and a scarred and tatted up person that can the history behind all of them. Out of all of these things, being a person with Autism falls way down on the list. Thinking about having this different-order would not have allowed me to find who I truly am.
When it is all said and done for me in this life, I will not be known just as that Autistic person but as this person that did so many things despite his starting diagnosis.
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum