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!

Ask Me Anything

This blog began as a way for me to share a bit about my life and my experiences as a non-speaker in a world dominated by speech! I have loved sharing bits and pieces of my unique experience and I hope to continue to do just that. In this week’s post I want to open up the lines of communication and find out from my readers what it is they want to know about me!

I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my posts and I hope they help you embrace other people you may encounter who have differing needs. I hope to be a reminder that we are all so much more alike than we are different!

So, Ask Away!

Music In Color

Do you have a specific example of a song that “makes you smile no matter what kind of day you’re having”? 

I would say generally that oldies music puts me in a happy mood. More specifically I love 60 and 70’s era tunes. There is a feeling in that era of music that relaxes me. To get even more specific I will shout out a favorite of mine. Fleetwood Mac. The Chain. That song has a way of soothing me.

I wish it was possible to bring to life what I see. I would say it is like a dancing fountain, the movements are layered and playful. The colors jump up and down around me. For this song it’s soothing in color and it’s not overwhelming. I have this bright feeling come over me as the song builds.

The Sequel

In today’s blog post, Brian shares with you his reflection on his inaugural blog post “The Story of Me” which he shared in August of 2017.

Four plus years into my journey as a speller I have evolved and adapted in many ways. The time I have spent navigating the world as a non-speaker has led me to encounter amazing communities, advocate for neurodiversity, and grow as a person. I am part of an amazing group of nonspeakers with a mission to change the way autism is perceived. 

My story is a reflection of all of the experiences and people I have encountered. It includes the years of silence but is made purposeful in the way I choose to use my voice. In the many twists and turns of my life thus far I stand firm in my belief that we aren’t defined by the choices we make and we won’t be remembered for any single impact we might have. We will be remembered for how we made people feel.

I share that with you because I have learned the most important lesson I can teach people about being a non-speaker is that I am not so different than you. I want to be made to feel that you see me as an equal. 

Now I want to finish by sharing a bit about what makes me, me! I am an advocate but I am also a friend. I like to fight for a meaningful cause but I also love to unwind with a cocktail. There is nothing I value more than family, I live for a sunny day at the beach, and I believe laughter is the secret to a long and happy life … well laughter and vodka. If my words can teach you one thing let it be this … I may be non speaking but my mind can do laps around yours, so do your best to keep up. 

The last four years have been a journey of self-discovery but I look forward to all there is to learn on the road ahead.

Music In Color

I love music. I love the way it fills a space and brings people to life. Since the beginning of time music has been a language that everyone understands. It enhances our joy, it can make us feel understood when the world makes us feel invisible, and it sometimes shares what we feel when we can’t seem to find the words.

In my own experience music is a visual experience as much as it is auditory meaning that when I hear my favorite songs I see them come to life. I would love to share more but first I want to hear from all my readers. 

Comment below a song that makes you smile no matter what kind of day you’re having. I’ll share mine if you share yours!

A Call to Kindness

Through the events of the Covid shutdown many stories surfaced about people looking for opportunities to spread joy. My mom came across the story of a young girl in Scotland who used her garage door as a canvas for her chalk masterpieces. Her art was more than a way to pass the time, it really spread joy through her community. 

Check out Eilidh’s story at the link below:

https://www.scotsman.com/news/people/five-year-old-larbert-girl-turns-garage-doors-into-works-of-art-to-raise-spirits-3149773

What sticks out to me most is the way so many members of the community rallied behind her small gesture. One act of kindness certainly has the potential to cause a ripple effect. We hear that all the time. I wonder what would happen if we put it into action more often. 

Respond by commenting below:

How can you answer a call to kindness this week? I will answer the call by sending a card to a loved one just because.

A Friendly Read

In a way books are a universal language…By that I mean they serve as a springboard for human connection.

You look at the story of someone else and you have the chance to learn about yourself. Bring the story among friends and you have the chance to discover so much about each other.

I have had the pleasure of gathering weekly with friends to discuss so many beautiful stories but have learned so much about them along the way. I encourage you to read a book and share it with a friend. It’s an amazing way to explore the minds of others.

Share in the comments below a book that taught you something new about yourself or someone in your life.

Hello Again

It’s been awhile since I’ve put out a post but I am back with fresh thoughts to share. I hope my blog can serve as not only a resource to learn about autism but also a place of positivity.

My journey with advocacy has revealed an important piece of my story. The most important thing I can teach people is that I am not so different from them. My hope would be that you read my blog and connect with me in some way.

Thanks for being here. Stay tuned for a new blog next Friday.

A Legacy Worth Leaving

If this pandemic is to teach us anything, it is that the smallest acts of kindness can mean so much. Since GranDee Donohue and Pop Foti died my family has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love from our friends and family.

I find peace in these acts of kindness. For is it is a living testament of my Pop pop Donohue’s famous words to his family: “Give the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.” GranDee and Pop Foti gave all of themselves to their family, their friends, and their community.

Their example is one of selfless love and devotion to making the world a better place for future generations. They planted trees they would never see. And that is a legacy worth leaving.

STILL Looking for Love…

christmas christmas house cold fir

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

It happens only so often so be patient and aware! If you wish to win the heart of your beloved follow these three simple steps. First you must wait for the first snow to fall. When it does you mustn’t waste any time! The next step is to throw on your warmest winter boots and head outside. Moving counterclockwise you must circle three times around your dwelling. Do this and I assure you that true love will appear before the first blossom of spring. 

Another Shot at Love

If you sent your letter to the oak, and still haven’t found your one true love… Don’t worry, Sarah has a word of advice! Get your wallets ready…

a red trendy high heels

Photo by Castorly Stock on Pexels.com

If a man or woman is looking for love they should follow these steps.

First they must purchase a pair of red shoes.

Next they must place the shoes under the open side of their bed.

Lastly they need to recite the following line: “I wish on the moon, I wish on the sun, for the universe to send me my one.”