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!
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.