I am an adult on the Autism Spectrum, and I am running for office!
If my campaign accomplishes nothing else, I hope to raise awareness of how people living on the Autism Spectrum can succeed in life. Neurodiversity is a part of the diversity of humanity. The world does not need to be governed solely by and for neurotypical people.
Nobody realized that I was on the Autism Spectrum when I was in school. I didn’t discover it til I was in my 30’s. I had moved to Virginia to assume a pastorate. One of the families in the church had two boys on the Autism Spectrum. I began to research it, to become a better pastor to them. The more I read, the more my own life began to make sense. After consulting my primary care physician and later a psychiatrist, I had an explanation. At that time, they were still calling my type of autism Asperger’s Syndrome. Today it is simply one of the places on the Autism Spectrum.
I graduated high school in 1993. At that time science and education were only just beginning to understand how broad the Autism Spectrum really was. I remember things being very hard for me, and the adults in my life didn’t understand why. I couldn’t work the combination lock on my locker in the time allowed between class, and I got in trouble. I would hear things like “All the other kids can do it, Your fingers are no different.” We now know that small muscle control is one of the factors associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My fingers actually were different. I got in a lot of fights because I didn’t understand the social systems and social cues of my neurotypical peers.
I was lucky. Special Education teachers like Pat Card (later Fountain) and Martha McCarley didn’t give up on me even when others did. They didn’t know what they problem was, but they refused to listen to those who said I was lazy and a discipline problem. Today we know so much more than we did. There is no reason why a student on the Autism Spectrum should go without the tools and support they need to realize their full potential.