Saturday, December 10, 2016

Autistic Help Interview #2: Anonymous

Another interview I have lined up was with a friend of mine who shares the passion of being a gamer and particularly a fan of a certain video game series. To respect his privacy I will keep his identity a secret, but he was kind enough to share his thoughts on autism and topics related to the condition. It only takes a few people who have autism to speak out on autism, and then we can better understand what the autistic community is really thinking. My anonymous friend and I hope that you find this interview helpful!

Steven Vitte:
1) What are some of the benefits that you feel you have with autism?
Anonymous: I feel having a unique perspective at times can be my best strength. Sometimes I feel like I have a different way of doing things but in the end, sometimes it makes learning certain skills relatively easy for me than it is for most people.

I also feel happy to have passion about certain subjects I care about which make them more than just an investment of time and rather an investment in my life.
2) What are some of the difficulties you experience with autism?
Definitely feeling like I don't belong at times. Sometimes I also have trouble doing what others can easily. So many times have I felt like "This world is not going to work with people with autism like me". But you have to get these negative thoughts out of your head!
3) How well do you feel you interact with other people, knowing your condition?
In a way, I sometimes wish I never formally labeled myself as autistic. Labels lead to actions you start to take even more knowing that something is different.

For instance when I first figured out, when I felt more confused I had something tangible to point to and blame compared to just saying I am myself. 

However getting diagnosed is the first step towards treatment.
4) How different do you feel you are compared to people who don't have autism?
I feel like I have certain thoughts or unusual aspects of me that other people might not fully accept immediately . But then at the same time, I don't feel 100% different. But different enough to know I have to have a different way to manage through life.
5) When did you find out that you had autism? Your reaction?
Mid-Elementary school. At the time I don't think I realized what a major deal it is. I just saw it as being made different. Only later did I process more that I was more different than I thought.
6) What are you planning to do moving forward?
I plan on continuing with my goals in life no matter how much I have to go through to get there. That means trying to finish my education and be a leader. 

7) How do you feel about some heroes who have Asperger's Syndrome?
I feel really glad they exist. People like them remind me that there is hope. It is not what you can or can not do with limitations. It is about what you ultimately decide to do in life and own it to succeed.
8) What do people need to know about Asperger's Syndrome in particular?
Definitely my number one thing for people to know is that just because you have Asperger's does not mean that are weird or someone you would not want to associate with. That is why many people are embarrassed to have autism in general because in social environments such as school, saying you have autism can sometimes have stigmas where people will treat you different.
9) What advice would you give others who have autism?
No matter how hard it is please go through life. If you need help ask. So many people with Autism are successful or are even MORE successful than their peers without autism. You can do it.
10) What's your advice for people who don't have autism?
Please consider reaching out to a person with autism and try to learn more about them. Many of us want friends who do not autism and are open. But often we are so shy or have low self-esteem that sometimes if someone takes the first step, so much would be easier.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Autistic Help Interview #1: Josh Howell

Readers of The Autistic Help blog, I am pleased to announce the beginning of a new feature that I hope you will like. I am starting to offer interviews to other people who happen to be autistic, and also like me, they have Asperger's Syndrome. I would like to add as many interviews as I can to provide the depth that is needed to make readers understand what autism is and what Asperger's Syndrome is. With these interviews you get to read the opinions of those who actually have such conditions.

Now with my 1st interview, Josh Howell is a good friend of mine who is passionate about things that I am also passionate about. We both happen to be pro wrestling fans and we are both gamers. Here are Josh's responses to the questions I have asked. It was a pleasure to interview Josh, and I hope others with autism will step forward and be interviewed as well! 

Steven Vitte:
1) What are some of the benefits that you feel you have with autism?

Josh Howell: Some benefits that come to mind right away would be my will to survive. Dealing with the rough times in middle and high school was rough for me. Was some of those problems caused by my own hubris? Yeah, I believe that I didn't make things easier for myself at times but outside of that, it was rough. I felt myself going in between stages of violence and emotional flip-flopping. I came close many times towards attempting suicide but I never found the urge to finish it. I would fight it off and keeping fighting. My intelligence is another benefit and one that I will admit I wasted in the later part of college. I disappointed a lot of people that believed that I was not only capable of doing well in college but leaving with sense of pride. 

Sure, I may have the Associate's Degree in Electronics Engineering Technology but at times, I feel unworthy of it. I felt that I was vastly more intelligent than I let on and some people in high school even called me one of the smartest in our class. Now, let me say this. I didn't think nothing much of it at the time because I didn't see it. Sure, my peak in my class was number 17 but the people whom were above me were geniuses. They studied hard and did what was told which I failed to do at times. But as I thought about this more, I began to think a lot better of myself. I may not be able to match their intelligence in some ways but I know there are some ways where which I outclass a lot of the people above me. My will to survive and my intelligence are two things that I feel that my autism benefited.

2) What are some of the difficulties you experience with autism?

This is an interesting question for me because I have experienced a good portion of the difficulties associated with autism but for sake of keeping it short, I'm going to limit to two common issues with me. First is interpersonal relationships especially with girls, this is one of the toughest challenges for me without question. Due to some of the conditions that plague me, it's tough for me to form friendship with anyone let alone any girl. 

My social awkwardness and my inability to understand body language really didn't make things easier on me and sometimes, it's those things that make me either too over cautious or too obvious with my actions. There's one girl in particular that comes to mind when it comes to how I handle girls/woman now. For privacy reasons, I'm going to change her name but she knows who she is. Sidnay is that one particular girl that I have had some difficulty with and I attribute that to my own fault. I needed to know when to back off and when to approach a girl in the right way and I felt Sidnay did help with that. Do I still have trouble with girls? Yeah, but I have gotten better over time. I can deal with rejection much better, now, I'm just chilling till the right girl comes along. 

The 2nd issue is sleep problems. I have a hard time sleeping for the normal 7 hours that's required even tho I do believe that a human can function with 3-6 hours of sleep just as well as someone who has 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Bits of tossing and turning and lots of nocturnal/early morning awakening is common with me but I'm beginning to fight that much better. 

3) How well do you feel you interact with other people, knowing your condition?

Outside of my struggles with girls/woman, I feel that I'm doing very well when it comes to interacting with people. I have my circle of close friends that I can trust and respect. I have a circle of people who I can be cool with. I've talked about my condition a few times on social media but I'm certainly more than willing to discuss it in public without hesitation.

4) How different do you feel you are compared to people who don't have autism?

I don't feel any bit different compared to those whom don't have it. Maybe it's because I'm on the higher functioning end of the condition? Who knows? I feel more intelligent and more confident in myself for sure.

5) When did you find out that you had autism? Your reaction?

I was diagnosed when I was 4 years old. I didn't have a reaction at time because I was too young to understand that and I wasn't capable of speaking not for another full year. I believe I do remember my mother's reaction. It's was rough on her at first because she and no one else in the family had any history of the condition. I was the first one in the family with the mental disorder. 

Later on, one of my nephews was shown to have it and it look like the autism chain in our family starts me with me and him. She was then told a list of things that I would have never been able to do and it lit a fire under her. She became determined to mold me into the man that could do anything no matter what anyone said otherwise. I found out in the last 6 years and it's changed how I looked at the world for sure. 

6) What are you planning to do moving forward?

Well, Amazon recently offered me work so I will be working for them and hopefully, I can move from Part Time Seasonal Employee to Full Time Employee. Knowing me and how much I work, I feel that will happen soon.

7) What advice would you give others who have autism?

Never let anyone tell you that you can't accomplish nothing in your life. Do not be afraid to discuss your condition with people because you never know whose willing to help you or at least learn more about you. Never give up even when the times are rough and you feel that life isn't worth living. Keeping fighting and you will see that life is worth living in the end.

8) What do people need to know about Asperger's Syndrome in particular?

Asperger's Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder on the higher functioning end. The symptoms for this ASD are less severe compared to the others. Those whom have Asperger's tend to have weakened social skills, sleep problems, not be able to read body language, obsession with certain topics which can get unusual, and tend to have other conditions piled on.

9) How do you feel about some heroes who have Asperger's Syndrome?

Well, to express a feeling, I feel that I should name some people who inspire me that share being autistic or have been attached to the ASD train. Two particular individuals named Satoshi Tajiri and Stanley Kubrick. These two have been associated with autism and it speaks a lot to their lines of work. Tajiri being the founder of Game Freak which lead to the creation of Pokemon, one of the most dominate Nintendo franchises. Kubrick being one of the most iconic flim directors in history known for A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining. Those two men are figures that I can respect for making a name for themselves despite any short comings.

10) What's your advice for people who don't have autism?

Do research and try to understand what you are dealing with. Be patient, be honest and be willing to help whenever you are needed. Autistic people have gotten far in the world with the help of people willing to help them. We have tasted fame in movies and in the video game industry. We would love to see people not only support those who have autism but those whom have any mental disorder of any kind.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Positive Spin on Autism 3

Now here comes a 3rd positive spin on autism, and the base link that I want readers to focus on is a link that doesn't have such a positive tone. Here's where I can turn this linked article into a positive spin.

I'm just going to be blunt when I say this. You don't need to read very far into this linked article to find out what the higher ups of any country in the world think of you, the autistic person. It's painfully obvious that this article ties this "proposed plan" around this core belief that people who are autistic simply can't take care of themselves and that they need crutches for every single facet of their lives.

When you read articles like this one it becomes very clear that it's very easy for media know-it-alls; i.e. journalists who spin news to fit a specific agenda, to put a negative spin around almost every issue that involves autistic people.

For the record, Autism Speaks, that one famous organization that is mentioned at the end of this linked article, isn't an organization to be trusted. I'm sad to say that I've had a not so good experience communicating with Autism Speaks. It involved me seeking help to find work with the help of Autism Speaks, and let me just say that this organization is not one to have the backs of autistic people like you and me. In fact these kinds of organizations don't exist to cater to our best interests. These organizations only exist to make a quick dollar and put autistic people down in the process.

"Wait! Where's the positive spin in all this?" This is where I make that turn.

I hold the belief that we autistic people are creative in varying ways. We are wired differently, after all. We think differently compared to other people, so with that in mind, I think it would be best for me to suggest that we put our rewired minds to the test. We need to challenge ourselves mentally every day to do something productive, no matter what it is. We need to focus on what we do best mentally and put that part of us on center stage while we mask our weaknesses as best we can.

I also believe that we shouldn't let politicians, media personnel, business people, etc. speak for us as if they understand what we go through every day. Simply put, many of these people don't get it. We shouldn't let these kinds of people put words in our mouths and create ideas that won't truly benefit us autistic people. Many of the ideas that come from the mentioned people above are created to benefit themselves, if anything.

The Autistic Community is real. It's a community that matters. It's a community that needs to stay in tune with what the current perception of autism is in the eyes of people who aren't autistic. It's a community that needs to speak for itself. Autism speaks, but not in the way that Autism Speaks sees it, if you know what I mean. Autism is NOT a disease that we need to cure because quite frankly it's incurable. That's a fact. The best thing for us to do is to deal with the cards we have been dealt, so to speak, and bring out the best parts of ourselves while we blaze a trail for us to live decent enough lives.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Positive Spin on Autism 2

Here's another positive spin on autism. Reading this article in the link above you will realize just hos widespread the issue of parents having to deal with autistic children is. A father is asked about how he deals with his son who has autism. The answers that the father gives in this article are telling for all the right reasons. It is going to be a work in progress no matter how you tackle this issue.

Though there are challenges, the father has remained loyal to his son and sticks by his son. A father's love for his son is something so invaluable that it should never be taken away.  Charles Jones handles autistic related issues the right way. He has every right to worry about his son Malik, and he will have to teach Malik that there are some things he has to pull away from doing, such as the hard flapping of hands when he gets excited. However, it's the reassurance from both the father and the son that everything is going to be okay that makes this article stand out.

Simply put we need more positive stories like this one. We can't be all "doom and gloom" and assume that every autistic person's story is going to have a sad ending. That's not how we are supposed to live our lives. We can't live in fear. We can't keep expecting the worst case scenario to keep playing out in our lives. The bad days that autistic people have in their lives probably won't be as bad as the bad days that those who take care of them will be. It can be stressful for these caretakers and it is stressful.

If you are a parent of a child who has autism, it is in the best interest of the entire family not to get discouraged. Will you have your challenges in dealing with autistic topics such as sensory issues? Yes, you will. However, in the single life that you live you have to be willing to adapt. As they always say, "Roll with the punches". If you're not willing to roll with the punches and adjust your lifestyle to accommodate your autistic child, then you will be doing the whole family an injustice.

Don't see your relationship with your autistic child as a "badge of shame" that you're forced to wear every day. There is no shame involved when it comes to having an autistic family member. It is easy to get discouraged today in a world where many, many, many (I put emphasis on that word intentionally) people want to see you fail and fall flat on your face. Let your relationship with an autistic family member be a positive experience, and also a learning experience for others to observe and hopefully replicate.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Positive Spin on Autism 1

Earlier in this baseball season we had the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League host an event that was really unique when it came to the ballpark experience. They ended up hosting something called "Sensory Friendly Night" where people who happened to be autistic could take in a baseball game without having to deal with the typical sensory issues that they would normally deal with in everyday life.

The autistic community has been catered to with events like this one, and it should be noted that events like this don't just bring awareness to people with autism. These events also make a good impression on those who aren't autistic. To be able to gain an understanding of what an autistic person goes through will be of great value, and people who need a better understanding of sensory issues will be given the opportunity to do so with these kinds of events.

If you notice in this press release (link above), the little things that get taken away to make autistic people feel more comfortable at a certain place make more of a difference than what people think. Sometimes all you need to do is scale back on some of your daily operations, such as fewer public address announcements, reduced volume and fewer motion graphics, and you will start seeing results from an audience that wants to invest in your product but can't because of sensory issues.

Some people tend to ask "How can I understand what an autistic person goes through?" Well, as someone who doesn't have sensory issues, you need to think on a scaled back level. You need to be willing to make some sacrifices that don't initially appear before you, but are considered to be very important by autistic people. When scaling back an experience you shouldn't make everything boring, because that's not what an autistic person wants to experience neither, but you need to be willing to take away enough things so that an autistic person won't feel super overwhelmed and that he or she can't function. Excitement is one thing, but practicality should also be considered. That's the gist of it.

This is the first of a string of positive spins on autism. Be on the look out for more positive spins.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Helping Out A Friend

First off I would like to apologize for my absence from The Autistic Help blog. It has been almost half a year, 6 months, since I last posted anything on this blog, but I have a valid reason for not posting. Real life has gotten in the way and I have been hard at work writing content for other parts of the internet. With that said, I am hoping to finish 2016 strong by writing more content on this blog, so please stay tuned.

Now attached below is a copy of the Facebook message posted by Becky Lyn. I would like to share this message with you readers because this involves a person who is on the Autism Spectrum, just like me. Her name is Hallee Sorensen and her story is that she had an 18th Birthday party where not one person attended. She had her party all by herself, and it was a thing that you have to feel in your heart that something needed to change. The Facebook message of Becky's is requesting birthday cards to be sent to Hallee to cheer her up and make her upcoming 19th Birthday something memorable.

I have chosen to help out by picking out a birthday card at my local Ollie's store and I will be sending that card to the address listed below. As a fellow person who is on the Autism Spectrum, I can't help but feel like I should lift up Hallee's spirits because I know how hard it can be to keep going every single day having very few friends, and not being able to enjoy certain experiences like birthday parties would certainly affect someone with autism.

I want to help out a friend because I believe it's the right thing to do, and generally speaking, I am a nice person who wants to reach out to others, whether they are autistic or not. That's what this blog is about. Helping other people and lifting their spirits up in any way that I can. I picked out a nice card that I hope Hallee will like. It's an imaginative card that I hope Hallee will have fun with.

I remember when I had my 16th Birthday party at my local K-Mart, and in the Little Ceaser's part of the store. I had a pizza and birthday cake and I had only a few friends and family members show up for that party. It was nowhere near a big party, but that didn't matter to me. What mattered to me was that I had people who cared about me and wanted to make my birthday a special day for me. I enjoyed the pizza and cake and I was appreciative of all the kind gestures my party guests made for me. I'm not a picky person and I like to keep things low scale anyway, so the party was fun for me.

I would certainly like to hear from Hallee and her family once they receive my card, and if possible I would like to have Hallee as a pen pal. Here's hoping Hallee has a great 19th birthday! :-)

This is my cousin Hallee. I'd like to tell you a little bit about her... First off, she is a beautiful young woman-both inside and out. She lights up a room with her smile.Hallee is funny, sweet, caring, smart, an athlete, a jigsaw puzzle champion, a wonderful student, and a best friend to all. Hallee is an amazing person-a person I am proud to be related to. She is also a person who just happens to have Autism. She has never let that small detail define who she is as a person-which is why I refuse to use it as something to describe her. A fun fact is that Hallee's Birthday is fast approaching! And this is where I have a favor to ask of all of you....

Below is a picture of Hallee last year at her 18th birthday party. She had been so excited to have a party with her friends. She wanted to go bowling, have fun, and eat cake and Ice Cream. Invitations went out to her classmates at school and to other friends in the area. Hallee sat at her party anxiously waiting for her friends to arrive so they could have fun....but Hallee's friends would never arrive. Not a single one. Below is the picture of her celebrating alone - eating her birthday cake. My cousin is a beautiful young woman who will always have the mind of a as you can imagine, she was heartbroken and beyond sad. She was hurt...
But you can help make this years birthday incredible!! I would love to flood her mailbox with birthday cards, from all over! Hal loves getting mail- this would be the best birthday gift she could ask for. If you could find it in your heart to take a few mins out of your day and send her a card, I would be forever greatful. This would mean a lot to her mother as well, for as you can imagine, watching your child cry into her birthday cake breaks your heart. If there is anyone who deserves a great birthday, this is the girl. Feel free to share this post!
Hallee's 19th Birthday is in July
Hallee Sorenson
34 Wellesley Way
Bangor, ME 04401

Please help us make this birthday memorable.
Thank you,

::::;UPDATE::::: Many people are asking about sending gifts. This is incredibly sweet of all of you and my family is very appreciative. That being said, gifts truly aren't necessary. A nice card would be just fine!!! Thank you so much.

Please help Hallee Sorensen! Thanks!