Today, I will show you all proof that autists can be their own bosses and not have to rely on work that is not commensurate with their passions or experience (and sometimes even higher education level).
According to an Inc. article, about 47% of autistic adults are jobless. This statistic hits me hard because I’m now one of the 47%. Even though I obtained a Master’s degree in March and held on to several internships and part time jobs, I have yet to land full-time work. I have been searching for full-time employment since March 2013, which is almost a two-year span. How can I prove my independence without meaningful work? I don’t think any one on the spectrum, especially those who have talent, would want to spend the rest of their lives depending on government and family.
Entrepreneur writer Patty Pacelli lays out four qualities of autistic people that will attract employers in her article. Below are excerpts from the article:
1. Intense focus comes naturally to them. Autistic people’s intensity can be an asset that helps them focus on the task at hand. For example, autistic employee Trevor’s extreme focusing ability allows him to wash huge piles of dishes quickly without stopping or complaining. His supervisor remarked that Trevor was “like a machine” and couldn’t believe how hard and fast he worked. Trevor said the repetition was comforting to him and he just “plowed right through it.”
2. They work when nobody is watching. When Trevor worked in maintenance, his coworkers commented that they always saw him doing heavy landscape work outside in the heat. Trevor didn’t know anyone saw him, but he worked hard when alone, never slacking or resting. It was that focus and commitment to do whatever he was asked that made him a model employee.
3. Autistic individuals can bring enormous creativity. Autistic people’s minds are wired differently, and their imaginations can be extreme. Managers should take advantage of this when looking for creative ideas or new ways to solve problems. If they give autistic team members opportunities to share their ideas, those ideas can lead to brilliant new concepts.
4. Autistic employees’ passions lead to productivity. Because autistic individuals usually have intense, specific interests, the best jobs are those that allow them to be involved with those interests. An employee who is perfectly suited to a position because of a passion results in a win-win situation. He will love working in his area of extensive knowledge and be hyper-focused and productive.
Not only should employers be aware of autistic employees’ strengths, they should also learn about some of their challenges, and how to accommodate them for better productivity.
People with autism need clear instructions so they know exactly what is expected of them, along with detailed job descriptions they can refer to often. They are literal thinkers, so language like “Be ready to start working at 9” works better than “Don’t be late.” They are not less intelligent, but they process differently and are usually visual learners, so the clearer the instructions, the better.
As leaders, creating an environment where high-functioning autistic employees can thrive is more than demonstrating social responsibility and diversity. It also yields the business results that entrepreneurs need to not just survive, but thrive.
Despite the qualities that would make us valuable employees, I’m still fear some of us on the spectrum would still be out of work. You see, the workplace is not primarily about your abilities and how hard your work. It’s all about social interactions and norms, with a little work capability. People may be scared of the silent type or person who have obsessions on sci-fi. It doesn’t help that people on the spectrum are usually literal thinkers. Work jokes may go over their heads. Eventually, our struggle to interact with co-workers and bosses can either cost us jobs or not get us one in the first place.
Luckily, I’m trying my hand at home business, where I can utilize my abilities and potentially earn some fair income. All it takes is a cell phone, computer, and a passion for the services you provide. Along with some social media savvy and content management. Personally, I would rather gain my freedom through entrepreneurship. I think people on the autistic spectrum should consider it because entrepreneurship or work-at-home can not only help you make money to earn a living while enjoying the ability to work. Such opportunities can also relieve you from some of the social anxiety. Aspies and autists who run their own businesses can focus on their tasks at hand, and they may mostly do customer interaction over the phone or online (assuming the business is digital). More importantly, businesses and work-at-home opportunities allows for us to spend more time pursuing our obsessions and interests with little to no ridicule. In the home business, I still have time to write, watch football, and catch up on some cartoons and documentaries after taking care of what I need to take care of.
I foresee more of us on the spectrum taking advantage of at-home work or entrepreneurship in the near future. This is a good time to hop on the opportunities to gain independence through being your own boss. There’s plenty of ways to do it and sources to go to. For my way of helping you gain independence through business while enjoying your passions, check out the presentation on my business website.
Otherwise, I pray that one day, the world will be more accepting of autistic entrepreneurs and employees. Our abilities and minds are a terrible thing to waste.
- Timotheus Gordon, Jr.: Authorized 5Linx Independent Marketing Representative (5LINX.net)
- Autistic Entrepreneurs Prove Their Mettle (Youtube/AP)
- Jerry Seinfeld: I’m on Autism Spectrum (newser.com)
- Thinking About Starting a Business? Here’s How to Get Motivated (legalzoom.com)
- Four Qualities of People With Autism That Could Benefit Your Business (Entrepreneur)
- For Someone with Autism, Entrepreneurship is the Answer (Inc.)
- 5 Tips (and 1 Big Tactic) to Increase Social Media Engagement (prnewsonline.com)
- How to Become a Leader in Your Industry Using Social Media (socialmediaexaminer.com)
- Social Media Promoter (internet.forumsee.com)
- Book Review: “The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users” (metaverse.wordpress.com)
- Lessons From a Young Entrepreneur Who Has Autism (Creativity Post)
Happy Sunday everyone!! Sorry about my long absence. A lot has been on my plate lately, from the never-ending job search to burying one of my uncles. But at the end of the day, I’m still here and I’m still fighting on, like a badger.
I proud to announce that I’ll join the party and do the 21 day writing challenge with my writing buddies. Due to my hectic life events, I didn’t get to start on time. Better late than never, right?
I’ll keep this short. However, I do have a few udpates:
– I am back at it with the job search. It’s still a painful search, figuring out which jobs would be a great fit for me and which ones are public transportation accessible. I expanded my search to higher education positions. I hope that would help.
– Spiritual journey has been up and down. I was out of the loop, as far as reading the Bible online, for two months. Now that I have a smartphone, I started reading my Bible and Qur’an again.
– Between January 2nd and 4th, I will be staffing Kollision Con at Rosemont, IL. Which means that I will also take pictures there. As always, I will post con pictures on my Flickr account and Facebook like page.
– I’m writing for Football.com again after being on hiatus for several months.
– For those you don’t know already, I’m running a home business where I help people and businesses save money on essential services like cable, satellite TV, text message marketing services, Internet, energy, healthcare, etc. I also train people to help those who are looking to save bucks on such services. Please look at my website to learn more about the opportunity and the services I provide and let me know if it’s of interest of you. Also follow my following accounts related to my new venture.
That’s all. Look forward to some more extensive writing tomorrow. In the meantime, have a good night!
- Does Social Media Marketing Actually Work for Entrepreneurs? (grasshopper.com)
- Social Media Marketing | Online Research, Advertising & Marketing News (firstdigital.co.nz)
- Chlorine Gas Leak Sickens Chicago Hotel Guests, Disrupts FurFest Convention (chinatopix.com)
- Need a Little Faith? (heatheranddaisy.wordpress.com)
- Thank God For Today! (starinmoi.com)
- “Divine Inspiration” in the Qur’an and in the Bible – on The Glazov Gang (frontpagemag.com)
- The “Bible Belt” is the Porn Belt: Surprised? (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)
I proud to say that since my initial diagnosis in 1990, society has come a long way from the “dark ages of autism”. Growing up, I had only a few options: be institutionalized, spend the rest of my life with family, or spend my adult life in rehabilitation centers. I dreamed of going to college, not spending all my school years in special education, enjoying independence, and pursuing a career in whatever passion I desire. Only a handful believed that I can actually achieve it. Back in the 1990s, I don’t recall having heroes on the autistic spectrum. Sure you have the savant on films, but that’s about it. There were no real-life autists and aspies in my book. The world seemed unprepared for dealing with people on the spectrum, because they weren’t as many supportive programs.
In 2014, I admit that it’s actually a great time to be an aspie or autist. You can be the IT whiz, writer, professor, artist, activist, athlete, musician…any passion you love, you can do know with little objection. I see more people on the spectrum attend mainstream classes and excel at post-secondary institutions. We don’t have to rely on just Raymond Babbit for inspiration. There’s Stephen Wiltshire, Sondra Williams, Donna Williams, Dr. Temple Grandin, and others who are role models for the autistic community to follow and emulate. More efforts are being made to employ people on the spectrum. We can live independently and even go to groups that are tailor-made for our needs, without relying on parent-oriented orgs like Autism Speaks.
I’m liking the chances that I have today, but I feel like I’m still an outcast to my own community. Perhaps it’s because that not only I’m autistic, but also African-American. I wish my ethnic group can be more supportive of the African-American autists. I don’t why autism can be a taboo subject. Maybe my community was taught that autism is the devil and it needs to be fixed, considering that the African-American community is built on Judeo-Christian beliefs. For some believers, the autist is a gift from God and needs special care. Sometimes for black autists who are capable of independence, this could mean facing constant overprotection from family and friends.
I think this fear also have to do with the notion on trying to “be normal and cool”, like the entertainers and athletes. Or perhaps being autistic can suck for an black person like me because intelligence and geekery equals “acting white”. Talk about your crab in the barrel situation!
Also consider the access to health care centers and schools that can help autistic people. In the inner city, or any area that is primarily of African descent, health and autistic programs are not as abundant, accessible, and adequate as ones in other neighborhoods are. In Atlanta, for example, 40% of autistic children in the metropolitan area were diagnosed at only schools. Basically, you can only afford the school psychologist to try to evaluate the autistic child.
By the time black autists enter adulthood, like me, they are totally screwed. Black unemployment is general is a pain, on top of all the other pressures that the black community already have to face, like lack of education, broken families, drugs, gang culture, etc. Unemployment and underemlpyment is still an issue for people on the autistic spectrum in general. Throw in the struggles to interact with people and the odd reactions to certain mannerisms, and you witness the negative cloud that is over the black autist.
But no worries, it more hopeful for the black autist than you think or see in the media. I thought I have no autistic hero to emulate in the black community, until I read about Maurice Snell. He graduated from college and now holds a position at Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago. If he can rise up to get the job that he loves, then so can I!
Black people on the spectrum can do it too. But it will take plenty of love, willpower, and support. Families should look more at the positive sides of the autistic spectrum, or matter of fact, accept the autist or aspie more instead of nick-picking at their ways of life. I wish that my ethnic group can buy into more autistic ACCEPTANCE than AWARENESS. Geekery is fine; it doesn’t “strip” my blackness or African-American heritage. We should form self-advocacy groups specifically for the black community.
But more importantly, we, the autistic people in the African Diaspora (including myself) should not worry about those who try to derail our dreams. We can take examples from the Stephen Wiltshires and Maurice Snells of the world, and be shining lights in our community. Furthermore, we should know that the autism community at large has our backs. Besides, we are all bond by a condition that non-autistics still can’t grasp and understand the benefits that comes from it.
- Citizen Autistic screening October 19 in Redwood City, California (leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk)
- Five Assholes Arrested in Poop-Filled “Ice Bucket” Prank on Autistic Kid (joronomo.com)
- Cyber-Bullies Targeting Autistic People on Facebook for Using ‘Âû’ Suffix (news.kron4.com)
- Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant who speaks 10 languages… (crazyfacts.com)
- 5 Year Old Girl With Autism Creates Extraordinary Paintings That Belong In A Gallery (collective-evolution.com)
- Author Temple Grandin to lecture on autism at Misericordia University (timesleader.com)
Good day/evening everyone! Finally finished the introductory chapter to my upcoming book, tentatively called “The Wonderful World of Pharaoh”. Feel free to comment and critique on it.
I wish I could buy into a universal world, where everyone adheres and thrives under the same social norms. An utopia in which we won’t be misreading signals or bicker over ways of living. I assume that people in such utopia don’t have to call each other weirdoes or lames because they don’t have to worry about different worlds. Or I can dream of creating an earth – like atmospheres field with islands of various social expectations. You don’t have to bow down to a mainstream culture and suffer bouts of conformity. Inhabitants in that world can see their way in their own, private, and visual manner in each bubble.
Sadly, the world as we know it doesn’t operate in either way. We live in a world within multitudes of worlds and perspectives. Human share at least two different worlds at once. There is the physical world, which is the planet Earth and its environments/resources. Then you have a universal world; everyone in that world agrees on a set of social norms and taboos that can be understood anywhere, no matter what culture you may represent. Let’s be real: universal worlds are NOT utopian or totalitarian. I don’t see a leader make the whole world follow a set of rules. Good luck controlling approximately six billion people by enforcing a static set of social norms! On the other hand, it would also be difficult to govern six billion separate mindsets. Even if a government was created to allow separate worlds to exist as isolated islands, everyone would still either clash or stick to their own rules and social norms.
Along with the physical and universal worlds, you may also experience personal, customized worlds within those two primary, preset realms. It can range from two to infinite additional worlds, and it all depends on various factors. One must consider things such as ethnicity, medical conditions, education, family upbringing, critical event that may influence ideologies, social status, etc. Some can juggle multiple worlds at once. Others thrive on focusing on living in their own little world, without much regard for their other worlds.
For example, I sit on a bench to enjoy a placid, bright day at Rainbow Beach in Chicago. To the naked eye, I am located near 79th Street and South Shore Drive in the Cheltenham/South Shore neighborhood, on the beaches of the great Lake Michigan. A pedestrian may see me stare at the skyline, the children making sand castles, pretty ladies strolling on the pathway, or youth spiking a volleyball over the net. That’s what I call the physical world. It’s the things, the concrete and immediate ones, that you can recognize.
Keep in mind that there are more worlds than the physical one and that you may be experiencing two worlds at once. Going back to the Rainbow Beach example, you may also pickup on how I see the universal world within the physical realm. You’ll probably assume that I’m at Rainbow Beach to relax, take a break from work, escape the sweltering heat wave, meditate, or search for a mate. Besides, I think we all go to the beach for any of those usual reasons. But then there are more worlds to consider within the confines of Rainbow Beach. You might see two common worlds: the physical and the universal ones. However, Rainbow Beach can mean many more things than just its standard definition. That beach may be my retreat from the violent Chicagoan streets; it might be my little island of heaven. Or it could be a reminder of how much I missed my hometown, since I can see the Chicago skyline from that area. Maybe Rainbow Beach reinforces my affinity for water and the lakefront. Who knows what else I can draw from Rainbow Beach! Aside from the sea of possible viewpoints, I’m using the Rainbow Beach example to illustrate how you can experience worlds with a know physical location.
Why am I going on a tangent about worlds, you may ask? I can be expressing my passion for studying metaphysical and spiritual ideologies. Or blame it on the anime and cartoons; those two factors are loaded with whacky and vast worlds. Yet those are not primary reasons why I’m going into detail with multiple worlds. Instead, I’m borrowing a page from W.E.B. DuBois’ philosophies on identities, in which a person is carrying two or more personas in one body. Originally utilized to explain how African-Americans view their dual identities in America, you can say that DuBois’ notion of “double-consciousness” can be applied to any situation where a person is floating between two or more identities that conflict with each other. Those with multiple identities may have difficulties coping with how their peers view each persona and how those affect certain aspects of their life.
have so many worlds that I navigate within a finite space. I am a brony, spiritual being, photographer, believer in polyamory, humanitarian, South Sider from Chicago, football junkie, foodie, life-long student, romantic, troubled soul, etc. If I keep going with the listing, then you’ll assume that my head is saturated with interesting worlds I travel back and forth to. I will talk about some of my interests and personas later. But for now, I want to explore two primary identities readers should examine more closely; one of them needs special attention because it’s a world only a brave few can describe.
On one hand, I am human, just like everyone around me. Yes, I am a six-foot, 270-290 lb. dreadhead who can pass for a lineman or linebacker. Otherwise, I’m similar to the average Joe. I have feelings and I express them verbally. I eat, sleep, move around, poop, and piss like a human being. My five senses are present, though I do need glasses sometimes to look at tiny or far away objects. I can be adventurous and have fun with you if I’m in the appropriate situation. I get in trouble just like everyone else, bleed just like you, and try to answer life’s questions like everyone else. And best to believe that I am capable of playing sports or making sweet love (if I wanted a mate)!
At first glance, you may perceive me to be human. I guess I’ve been playing normal well for quite some time. You can’t tell that I’m different right? I don’t think so. Other than exhibiting a few personality quirks, I can pass for a neurotypical with flying colors.
But what if I tell you I have another identity? Perhaps this human/normal thing that I have is nothing more than a façade. It’s because I’m also autistic. Furthermore, autism is my dominant identity, not human. Being autistic is being a foreigner in his or her motherland. I operate and function like a neurotypical in the human world, and if you didn’t know any better, you would assume that I’m a natural-born citizen of that world. However, I don’t feel like a citizen of this Earth, but rather an explorer from Planet Vegeta or some mystical territory. I view the world much like a dog roaming the barren alleys, relying on senses and patterns and visuals. From what I learned, humans usually rely on feelings, abstract thought, and social concepts. I’m functional (somewhat) in those departments, but even close to fluent. But I am fluent in recognizing and explaining concrete details. I use my five senses and brain to navigate this jungle called life. I concentrate on one thing at a time with sharp focus, as if I’m buying into Coach Schottenheimer’s “one play at a time” philosophy.
Those are cool traits to have, right? You’re the most incredible person in the world (in my books) if you can shove all your social mayhem and focus on what you love to pursue best. I can empathize with you on that one, but some neurotypicals my give us the evil eye when we go on with our lives with that mindset. I believe that a few really give a damn about the logical viewpoints of autists and aspies. We’re aliens, even though we bleed, piss, and shit like non-autistic people. However, I live in the social world, dominated by concepts, idioms, and emphasis on peer interaction & social norms.
There are reasons why the whole different world spiel is a reoccurring theme. As mentioned before, autistic live in two parallel worlds. There’s the neurotypical world, where daily life is governed by constructs, cues, and norms….with chunks of (complex) emotions. And then you walk into the world of autists and aspies, where logic, patterns, and animalistic thinking dictate how daily lives and routines operate. What I mean by animalistic thinking is the type of thinking that Dr. Temple Grandin once explained in a BBC documentary: both animals and people on the autistic spectrum rely on their senses and concrete details to navigate their surroundings. For example, a scent from a person can give me numerous information, such as the age of the person, state of mind, taste in fashion, personality, brand of cologne/perfume, lotion flavor, etc. Senses and details matter to autists and aspies. I wish that the higher powers could have forged an Earth-like planet just for autist and aspies to inhabit. But then I won’t have to write my essay series, or find a legitimate reason to write it. Haha!
There is only one Earth in the universe, therefore us aspies and autists share it with non-autistics. Despite my distaste for some of the social norms, I must obey the rules of the neurotypicals in order to survive the chaos called life. I am bombarded with visuals and literature on how to be “a normal person” on a daily basis. I see it in mainstream movies, where they are saturated with social norms. The ads I see on TV dictate how I should behave. Institutions, like school and places of worship, have knacks on molding me into an average, respectable human. And people are quick to point out my “weaknesses” if I pull out my first generation Pokémon cards. If an action seems off to them (even if it’s not a wrong vs. right thing), then I’ll be hammered with concerns or jeers. I’m an outcast if I see the world differently from what I was programmed to see it. And yes, some of my quirks may seem strange to their eyes. For example, turning a fan on while the heat is circulating the house or not dressing up for church can lead into unnecessary debates. I have my reasons behind certain actions, and most of them are preferences, not good vs. bad (some of them can be stemmed from my autism, like turning on less lights).
On one hand, I see those who mock my “autistic way of life” as bullies and complete assholes. They seem to get a kick out of judging the autist or aspie, though some may have at least working knowledge of what autism is. They appear to purposely mock their mannerisms. But then you have those who don’t know any better or are misinformed. You may have never heard about autism until I wrote about it or someone you know has the condition. Or maybe you were listening to fictionalized accounts (some are them are inaccurate) of those living on the spectrum. I’m not surprised if you see as a savant or man-child prone to tantrums, if my routine gets shaken up. Perhaps you might have strong knowledge of autism. Or, you may even exhibit traits of it, but your family, peers, or community doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. I’m assuming that they have their own fears, myths, or prejudice on that matter. I believe that, in general, the African-American community is not big on topics surrounding mental and developmental disorders. Though I don’t want to get into detail until later in the book, I can say that it boils down to “trying to play normal and cool”, like Shaft, Snoop Dogg, or Michael Jordan.
I’m writing my essay series for two kinds of people: those in the spectrum who are facing similar predicaments as myself and those who don’t understand our struggles to live in a predominately neurotypical world. I’m aiming for the latter because I’m tired of others telling our stories without regards for the autistic community or taking the time to learn about our daily lives, especially as adults. In fact, I don’t think people ever get to listen to stories from autistic adults often. My book shouldn’t be taken as gospel; my account of being autistic is unique, and the same can be said for previous essays and memoirs written by those in the spectrum. However, I pray that you can get a slight handle of the struggles and benefits of living on the autistic spectrum. People can again more insight to how I, as an autist, operate in the “normal world” and why I can sometimes feel like an alien on my own homeland.
To those on the spectrum, I hope that the journeys in my collection would be exciting rides for you too. I want to help remind my aspie/autie family that our voices are out there and we will be heard with attentive, objective ears. We write such non-fiction pieces to inspire those on the spectrum to be themselves and live out their obsessions. This is especially important for autists and aspies of African descent. It’s a rarity to find successful black people on the spectrum; I only managed to come across one who is officially diagnosed with autism: British artist Stephen Wiltshire (eeyup, the guy who can draw the city of Manhattan using photographic memory). We ought to see more aspies and autists of color doing their thing and sharing their stories. I’m far from a celebrity figure or person of importance, but writing my thoughts on the world of the autist can at least spark something.
With all being said, are ready to travel through the wonderful world of Pharaoh? Sorry if I was long-winded with my speech. Don’t worry about fluff and fillers, because those things are reserved for anime. You will come across interesting facts, funny anecdotes, and repressed memories….all are thrillers. But please be aware of references to booze, sex, “God-talk”, cannabis, and all the taboo stuff. I’m sure some may not be ready for an aspie who cares about Mary Jane. However, unexplored territory must be visited if you want an authenticated view of Pharaoh’s world. At any rate, y’all will come home from this expedition with enlighten.
So what the hell are y’all waiting for? Hop on the flying nimbus, relax, and enjoy the journey through “Pharaoh’s World”.
- Beyond Autism Acceptance (bloggingastrid.com)
- Dating and Autism: Free Tips (psychologytoday.com)
- And then I Came Back …. (myaspiefiles.com)
- ‘Baby-Sitters Club’ author’s latest heroine has autism (cnn.com)
- Mini-Midlife Crisis (My Current Status As Autistic Adult) (timotheusgordon.com)
When you see someone with autism, I bet you may see that person as a shy, geeky savant who is more into the sciences and mathematics than hanging out. You probably wouldn’t think twice about seeing the aspie as an avid football fan.
I’m autistic, shy, and nerdy alright…and I’m geeked about American football! It’s the only sport that I follow all year long and watch games. I tweet and post Facebook statuses on about football all the time. I watch many NFL documentaries, such as A Football Life and Super Bowl highlights, repeatedly without tiring myself out. I write about football, take pictures during football games, and play pick-up games. The game is my wife that never lets me down.
I’ve been a football fan all my life, and I thank my godbrother, uncle, and father for introducing me to football. My father always talked football around me. Though I didn’t get to see him as much during my childhood, football bridged the gap between us. My uncle showed me moves to shed blockers and get to the quarterback; he also took me to some of my junior varsity games. My godbrother is an avid fan of football. I used to come over his family’s house to watch Bears and Super Bowl games. We love to debate NFL topics like the greatest running back of all time, which is Walter Jerry “Sweetness” Payton (sorry Barry Sanders fans). In addition, I recalled pretending to be Neal Anderson when I was around five or six, carrying the football and wearing a miniature version of his uniform. And though I didn’t know how they really work until high school, I would emulate formations I saw from the Game Boy game, NFL Football, by putting small toy figures in their places on the floor.
Football is the best sport for me to play, watch, and get involved in. For starters, it’s an exciting game of explosive offenses, innovative strategies, hard hitting, and surprise endings. But that’s not the only reason why I like the game. It have taught me many life lessons, such as teamwork and rising up from adversity. It kept me fit for most of my teenage years; it opened doors for me in writing and event photography. I’ve wrote several feature stories on the Atlanta Falcons during the 2013 season. As a freelance photographer and fan photographer for FanPhotos, I followed the miraculous championship run that Auburn University had that year.
More importantly, football is my favorite sport because it helped me interact with peers and family members and it molded me from a shy kid into respectable man. As mentioned earlier, I have high-functioning autism. I excelled academically throughout my schooling and I lived independently for most of my adult life. In fact, I have just received my MFA from SCAD-Atlanta in this March, and I recently turned 27 in October. However, I have difficulties interacting with people. For instance, I struggle with maintaining friendships or making friends because of my narrow interests and inability to read complex emotions. I’m also sensitive to bright lights and popping noises.
I was a quiet, aloof kid at first. It didn’t stop me from participating in social activities or doing the things I wanted to do as a child. Though I’ve been a sports nut since childhood, starting with basketball, it was football that gave me the most joy. I played kill-the-man on school grounds during recess and impromptu games of football in the backyard after school. I also enjoyed games of flag football and knee football while attending an after-school program at Foster Park. Sports, especially football, were the first activities where I felt like I was just one of the guys instead of an oddball. I can just run around, catch, throw, hit, and be myself on the field. Peers didn’t seem to mind picking me to be on the team. And even when I was just watching or talking about football, I wasn’t greeted with strange looks. I was always welcomed to join in on football conversations, whether it was with my peers or coach Ron Crenshaw, one of my first coaches.
The game of football had the most impact on my life during my high school years. I tried out for the freshman football team when I first entered Hyde Park Academy in summer 2002. I was picked on a lot by the varsity squad, because of my squeaky voice, my tendency to stay to myself, and my inexperience in playing organized ball. But I eventually gained respect of my teammates once I developed a knack for blowing past offensive lines and going after quarterbacks. I played two years with the JV team, as a defense end. By the time I was promoted to varsity, I’ve already made some good friends on the team and gained the respect of coaches. I played in significant amount of games during my junior year. When I was a senior, I was given more responsibilities. By the end of the 2005 season, I started most of the games as a defensive tackle and played on special teams as well. I was also becoming a fan favorite and one of the most academically sound players on the team. Overall, football transformed me into a more confident person who can be depended on, and thanks to the sport, I have learned how to interact with more people.
I don’t know what my love of football would take me next. It may open doors to inspire autistic athletes to try their hands in college and professional football. Alternatively, that passion may lead to me debating football on “First Take” or “Numbers Never Lie“.
Nevertheless, I’m glad to have football as my buffer to the social world.
- Autism Didn’t Stop This Teen From Becoming Captain Of His High School Football Team (huffingtonpost.com)
- Football Team Welcomes Teen with Autism as Honorary Member (whatisautisminchildren.com)
- Council Bluffs Teen Perseveres Through Autism (wowt.com)
- 4-year-old gets MVP treatment at Colts game (wishtv.com)
- Autistic Teen Scores TD, gets Win for Florida Team (wctv.tv)
- Logan gets his Jaguars football (bigcatcountry.com)
- On the Road to Autism Insurance Reform – Coach McNeill (autismspeaks.org)
- Michigan football player with autism shows hard work pays off (usafootball.com)
- Teen with autism scores dream touchdown (6abc.com)
- The ultimate USA sport event bucket list (houseoftravel.co.nz)
I didn’t write the previous post for randomness. There is a science to my madness.
You see, I’m approaching 27 on Wednesday and I’m 3 years away from the big 3-0. On one hand, I’ve accomplished more than people thought I would achieve that this point. When I was diagnosed with autism at age 2 1/2, I’m sure most people thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life with my mother or eventually institutionalized. They just hoped that I could speak full sentences. Instead, I obtained my MFA from SCAD-Atlanta this year and I think I was the youngest in my class. I have a BA in English at the University of Minnesota, while I joined Sigma Pi Fraternity International (Iota Zeta Chapter). I’m already published in several publications, including Football.com, and took photographs at memorable events like the 2013 Iron Bowl. I worked several jobs, been in some relationships, and lived on my own for most of my adult life. I maintained a few long-term friendships over the years. And I’m current writing a book on being an autistic adult and the challenges we face. Not bad for an autist, right?
I would say so, except I’m either not satisfied or I’m still prone to occasion bouts of despair. Some would ask me, “Why am I so sad? You got a degree”. Like it’s my destiny. I didn’t pursue higher education just to be a career student. I want to get the advantage I need to land a full-time position in the communication, media, or IT field. However, I haven’t found any full-time work yet. I don’t want to be the savant who’s imprisoned at home with my family. Despite being in three dating relationships, all of them failed and I’m scared to date again due to fear of failing or having something happen to me. Heck, I can’t even fit in. I’m an oddball to the “cool guys” because I don’t go far in trying to be cool, like listening to certain music or do something criminal. Can’t fit in with the nerds because I like football. Some say that I think too much. People knick-pick at any quirk that I may do. I feel that I’m behind because everyone else is married, have children, and make money but me. I am either misunderstood or not listened too because I think differently. All that plus this sad statistic: 1 out of 15 people on the spectrum may experience depression. Not a good look, for I’ve been dealing with despair for the past year due to my difficulties and struggles to succeed in a neurotypical world. All of those factors are triggering my current episode now; it’s been like that for a week. Worst of all, suicide can creep up on adult autists and aspies.
I really hope that I don’t get to this point. With writing, I hope that I can get out this whole and go back to what I love to do best: learn, work, educate, and explore. Pray for me. I normally don’t share my emotions, but I don’t want to come across as a robot who writes about only interests.
- Citizen Autistic screening October 19 in Redwood City, California (leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk)
- Adults with autism get a voice as advocacy group kicks off U.S. campaign in West Windsor (nj.com)
- Beyond Autism Acceptance (bloggingastrid.com)