I am 33 years old. I am from Huntington, Indiana in the United States.
My biggest accomplishment has been writing all my books about autism and my newest book called Preparing for Your Future with Autism in which I share many personal challenges and triumphs as an adult with autism. I love to write as it is a special interest and I thoroughly enjoy helping others learn about autism.
I wish neurotypicals understood how hard it is just to wake up every day to try and process or understand things that they are naturally able to process quickly and with little to no thought. I wish they could have a deeper appreciation for that. I also wish that they understood that autistic people are interested in dating and sexual relationships as well and would be more interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with us.
Not being diagnosed until I was 22 years old, I didn't have a lot of resources provided by insurance or government as far as supporting me in learning skills. The best resource I have had is my best friend who tries to help explain everything to me and help me navigate the social world. I appreciate all her help and support over the years.
I want everyone else on the autism spectrum to realize their potential and realize how awesome they are sooner than I did. It took me years to appreciate and love myself. I spent time thinking I had to change who I was and mask my autism. I hope others with autism can also realize what I recently have that you do not need to change who you are for anyone and you never need to mask your autism.
What led to me pursuing help was that when I started liking girls and wanting to date, I was getting the feedback that my approach was awkward, weird, or creepy. Not understanding why girls thought this about me I went to a counselor to ask them how I could learn to get a girlfriend. The counselor realized quickly that there was more of an issue than just wanting to learn how to get a girlfriend and after months of counseling and testing I was officially diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome on October 30th, 2007. The feedback I got with women I was attracted to is what led to my diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome.
Receiving the diagnosis was a blessing because it helped me understand that I was not weird or creepy like girls kept saying. But that I had a diagnosis that explained why I was the way I was. It didn't immediately cure all my problems or make life better but simply knowing that I had a reason as to why my life had been the way it was up until that point helped me feel hope for the first time in a long time and gave me a new reason for living.
I think of Asperger's completely different now versus when I was diagnosed. When I was first diagnosed, I was wanting to find out what was wrong with me and fix it somehow. I remember I had no interest in having autism and just wanted to make it go away when I was first diagnosed because I thought that was why no one liked me, wanted to be friends, or date me. Now, I think of autism completely different and have learned to develop an appreciation for it, life, and myself. I love having autism because it makes me good at many things like playing trombone and writing. I wouldn't be who I am today without autism. While, I’d still love to learn how to get a girlfriend I have hope that one day a girl will like me for who I am, and I will never have to mask my autism with her.
I firmly believe not having the diagnosis until I was 22 made it harder to accept autism and it caused it to take longer for me to accept it. Had I been diagnosed as a child I think that more people would have spent time encouraging me for who I was instead of thinking I was weird or creepy. I think that others would have been more accepting of some of my behaviors and wouldn't have thought there was something wrong with me causing me to believe there was something wrong with me. I think that I would have learned how to approach social relationships like dating relationships younger and with more success had I been diagnosed younger and that would have been a huge life changer for me.