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.
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum