I attended the Autism Speaks Walk yesterday morning, March 3, 2013, in Palm Beach County, Florida, along with my mother. I am an adult autistic woman in my mid-thirties, and I had a wonderful experience. I spoke with parents of autistic children, teachers, and autism professionals, and everywhere I was welcomed with open arms and embraced as a human being. I felt people finally understood me and accepted me for who I am. To my tremendous relief, I discovered that the participants were not trying to fix or change me in order to make me fit in better with the mainstream neurotypical (NT) career world.
Having my personal experience validated and appreciated was liberating and exciting. I am already beginning to feel like a different and stronger person. After 19 years of being relentlessly battered in the NT career world in my special interest of academia/ international relations, business, and accounting, I had begun to give up hope of ever being embraced in the work place. Thanks to this transformative event, for the first time in my life, I am starting to feel like there is a place for me in the career world. I shared my life experience with many people, and I touched their hearts and connected with them on a deep level. My story resonated with parents, teachers, and autism professionals.
I also shared my plan to write an alternative career guide for autistic teens and adults with the participants. And everywhere I went, I received encouragement and support for my ideas. Many people told me that I had a great point that many autistic adults and teens need alternatives to the standard NT career paths that we are often unable to pursue.
Once again, thank you to the wonderful founders, board members, staff, and volunteers at Autism Speaks for a truly fabulous and uplifting event. In addition, thank you to the vendors who shared your social skills products and school services with the autism community. Finally, thank you to the corporate sponsors who generously donated their time and resources to this incredibly important cause.