The Story of Me

My name is Brian. I am twenty-four years old and I have autism. Why am I telling you this? Because it will be important for you to understand my story. When my family first found out I had autism they were told I would never walk or talk and that it was my parents fault. The doctors told them I would never live a normal life. Well, they were right, my life isn’t what you might consider normal but it is awesome. I am here to tell you why it is so awesome. I was born into the most wonderful family. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be sharing my story with you today.

Growing up I always knew I was different but my family made me feel totally normal. For a long time I thought it was completely normal to scream when the washer beeped or when I had enough to eat. It wasn’t until I saw my brother grow up that I realized my normal was different than his. That was the first time I realized my life would never look the same as his. You may think I sound bitter but I am not at all. In fact I am thrilled to be here with my best friend sharing my story.

Always being in control of your body is something people take for granted. Autism robs me of my control. You probably think that sounds crazy, as most people do. But autism is a crazy thing. The first thing I want you to know is this is not a plea for your sympathy but an opportunity to listen to what autism really is. So here we go!

For many years people could not understand why autistics lacked total control of their body but assumed they lacked control of their minds as well. Well then some really smart people decided to study the brain and figured out that a deficit in one area does not impact the other. That led autism experts to new research that revealed they aren’t the experts after all!

I have spent most of my life mourning the lost of my voice thinking I would never see it again but I was wrong. A year ago my mom found a program that allows me to point to letters to spell and communicate my thoughts. When she realized how wonderful this program is she knew she had to spread the word. My dad and mom have dedicated their lives to helping me. I am particularly lucky to have the greatest dad. If it weren’t for them I can’t imagine where I’d be. The first person always to know about changes in my life is Emily, my longtime staff and best friend. Together they always help me to grow.

So that leads us to where we are today. Over the past year Emily and I have worked tirelessly to learn to communicate with each other and spread awareness. Now I think it is time to help others understand why this project is so important to me. I believe every autistic deserves a voice. I want to help them find their voice! With the help of my family and Emily I will make this dream a reality. I will use the power of my voice and the help of my sidekick Emily to make this vision come to life.

So now you may be wondering what you can do. It is pretty simple actually: Treat autistics with respect and dignity. Trust me, it makes a huge difference. We can truly change the way people perceive autism and it starts today!

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Adventuring to New Heights

I believe life is too short not to have adventure. 

I have felt such joy in moments when I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone. This weekend I experienced the  joy of parasailing. My body felt all kinds of freedom. I anticipated nerves that my body wouldn’t cooperate but when I stepped into the harness and went up into the air I felt weightless. I was in control and my body reacted just as I needed it to.

If your opinion is that your autism should stand in the way of experiencing adventure then you need to reset your mind. Let your body reach new heights of adventure! If you’re reading this and curious if you can handle it, let me encourage you. Try new things and let yourself be  surprised by life.

A Dream Come True

Nolan perfected his menu for the competition and although he went up against some promising competitors he did walk away a winner. The next few days were spent preparing and when Saturday came, Nolan was ready. 

He woke up, packed his knives, and off he went to meet the trucks with all his ingredients for the evening menu. He opened each box to carefully examine the contents, only to find it was all wrong. With just 12 hours to showtime he had to think and he had to think fast. He decided to start fresh with the ingredients he did have and rely on all he had learned during his time with Chef DuBois. 

Nolan Chose to be brave with his menu, combining new flavors and experimenting with unique foods. Dinner was served and he waited as guests devoured his food. He couldn’t believe how far he had come. 

The article ran a few weeks later and Nolan could not believe he was looking at his food in Bon Appetit magazine. A few weeks later he received a call that would change his life forever. An investor had enjoyed his Christmas dinner menu so much that he wanted Nolan to come on as the head chef of his new restaurant. A dream come true. 

Once again he packed his knives and off he went on his next adventure.

The restaurant was busier than ever when the holidays rolled around. One night during clean up Chef Dubois announced that one lucky chef would have the chance to create a menu for Christmas dinner and be featured in Bon Appetit magazine.

Nolan knew this was his chance. He spent the next week exploring different flavors and ingredients. He was ready to sweep the competition on Tuesday when they presented their menus to Chef Dubois.

Never On Time, Always Early

Chef DuBois was admired by all for his culinary expertise. The fact that he invited Nolan to stay after his abrupt entrance was shocking but Nolan was not going to mess up this opportunity. He washed his hands and suited up, ready to learn all he could.

Over the next few hours Chef DuBois showed Nolan more than culinary school ever could. After that night he decided he would never be on time for a shift again, always early. For the next six months Nolan earned himself a spot in the kitchen for dinner rush and he loved every second. He never felt closer to his dream of having a kitchen of his own.

His time in the kitchen so far had given him enough insight into what Chef DuBois was looking for. He was a no nonsense kind of guy and he expected the best from his sous chefs. Nolan knew tonight was his chance to stand out and he was going to be sure to make a good impression. 

It was a few hours still until prep for dinner would begin. So Nolan decided to sneak in early to scope things out. It took him by surprise when he was greeted by the most delicious scent of chocolate. Quietly he peered through the small window to see who was responsible for whatever was in that oven. When he realized it was Chef DuBois he panicked! In his rush to get out he managed to lose hit footing and fell right through the swinging kitchen doors. He was on the floor staring his idol right in the face. 

He laid on the floor for what felt like an eternity before getting on his feet. He was surprised to see Chef DuBois somewhat unfazed by his abrupt entrance. He quickly apologized and turned to leave when he heard a voice mumble “Stay”.  

Introducing, Chef DuBois

As soon as he stepped across the threshold, he caught a whiff of something …

He was not supposed to be there so he did his best to keep quiet. After months of practice he was ready for the big leagues, dinner rush in the main kitchen. For as long as he can remember, Nolan wanted to be a chef. He was fascinated, even as a little boy, by the way you could combine ingredients to create a symphony of flavors. His mother always dreamed he would become a five star chef, and for the first time ever that dream felt within reach. 

He was accepted into the institution of Culinary Arts in April and began classes in the fall. In his four years there he soaked up as much experience as he could. When he finally scored the gig at the city’s most respected restaurant he knew would need to prove himself. He knew he had to be the best if he wanted a chance to cook with the world renowned Issaac DuBois. 

It was months of working in the back kitchen before he even had the chance to step foot in the main kitchen and even then it was for a slow weekday brunch. He was determined to be a part of the excitement he heard bursting out of the kitchen when the restaurant was filled with people who waited months to try the chef’s world class cooking.

In his session this week, Brian was asked to share his interpretation of the common phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Here is what Brian shared:

It is a lot like saying to yourself “Be Present”. When you are bombarded constantly with images of peoples lives and opinions of where your life should be and what it should look like … it is easy to lose yourself. Living by the words “Wherever you go, there you are” is remembering that you have the opportunity to choose growth in every day and circumstance. If you are focused on what is ahead then you miss out on the magic of the moment.

Afterward, we opened discussion amongst those of us in the room. We each shared our own interpretation of those words and were pleased to find that we all had differing perspectives! The words held different meanings for each of us. We want to offer you the opportunity to share what those words mean to you.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!

Spectrum of Potential

My resolution for this year was to prioritize my physical fitness and I am taking strides toward that goal thanks to Pete and his encouragement of this community. At Full Spectrum Fitness Pete makes physical health attainable for people like me. Pursuing a healthy relationship with my body is no easy task! Apraxia makes sure of that. 

Pete has taught me that my body can be strong and that is empowering. The process can be tiring but as with so many things, it takes the right perspective to help you reach your goals. We are capable of a lot when we step outside our comfort zone.