Part one of a series looking at the ways the media represents autistic people.
Continue reading “Autism in the Media: Asperger’s Syndrome, Adam Lanza and the (Dis)association with Violence”
The column for which I won second place for best personal experience story from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2007. A fact I am proud of. The Advocate was the first weekly column in a campus newspaper, The Daily Titan, describing life with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Love is perhaps the most commonly discussed, pondered and philosophized subject in the world. For those involved with
the treatment of Asperger’s, as well as those who have it, love is still a topic for discussion and thought.
The city on a hill is the perfect metaphor to describe the Daily Titan newsroom. With its location on the sixth floor of College
Park, it is like that city ona hill where students, through hard work, can enjoy the fruits of their labor and all the academic and personal
successes. Yet it can definitely be lonely at the top. Success, in my estimation, is meaningless when there’s no one to appreciate it.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, love is on the minds of everyone.With Asperger’s, the discussion is less philosophical in nature. The conversation is more about “can we love?” as opposed to the very nature of love itself.
The question is irrelevant.
Can you breathe?
We are capable of love like any other human being. The ability to love by both Aspie, (adiminutive name for someone with Asperger’s) and non-autistic alike is what makes us human. Aspies such as myself choose to express love in a way that does not fit the ordinary definitions of love. Even those who are not autistic differ in the ways they express love and show affection, but it does not make the feelings less real or less wonderful and beautiful. Love created the universe, which is reflected in the eyes of those we love. Being a male student on a campus that is 64 percent female does have its advantages – to which the remaining 36 percent can attest – but on the other hand it has its disadvantages.
Let’s face it, most autistics are men and most men never really understand women, least of all autistics. I choose to express myself through words and actions, and I have found saying “I love you” is much more powerful than giving out candied hearts on Valentine’s. Words are more powerful than any gesture. Yet love is something that anyone wants and deserves. People assume that whenever a disabled person mentions the things they deserve, they often mistakenly assume that we deserve those things because we are disabled.
In contrast, it is not because we are disabled but because we are human.
As I spend my time in this city on a hill, the world seems that much bigger and just that much more isolated. Perhaps being such an extreme man has had a part in that. But that discussion will have to wait.
This appeared in The Orange County Register today on A1.
Autistic blogger writes from the heart
By ROBERT MORAN / FOR THE REGISTER
We are not all the same.
The belief that all autistics are the same is still one of the biggest misconceptions that autistics have to deal with.
Now that the Centers for Disease Control has determined that the diagnosis rate of some level of autism is 1 in 88 people, the numbers may seem startling, but it just means that there are more accurate methods of diagnosing autism. Better and more accurate methods, in this case, are important because no two autistics exhibit the disorder in the same way.
The new diagnosis rate has indirectly shown the world that autistics are all different.
I am not Rain Man. I can’t count cards like that. Sometimes I wish I could do that though. But my only prodigal ability has been to put pen to paper, which I have been doing since I was 9 years old.
I am writing my blog, Welcome to Aspie Land, not for myself. I am doing this because I believe the perspective of an autistic adult is as just as important as the perspective of a parent of an autistic child.
Too often the discussion is one sided and autistics are often not included in it. I am writing this because I want to demonstrate the diversity community. We all come from various backgrounds. I am a Roman Catholic. I have some autistic friends who are atheists. I am of French, Irish and Mexican descent. I know a few autistics who are Asian and some who are African American. We are as diverse as humanity.
Yet some people still operate under the assumption that we are all the same.
I recently graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in broadcast journalism. I work as desk assistant at ABC News at their LA bureau. I am one of the only people that I know of who is autistic and pursuing a career in journalism.
I am writing this blog to not only promote an understanding of the diversity of autism by promoting awareness, I am promoting acceptance.
Acceptance is what every human being looks for and autistics are no different in that end. I also want to inform people about autism, but not from the perspective of a parent or a psychologist or social worker, but from the perspective of a person who has it. The voices of the autism community should be as diverse as the community itself. I don’t pretend to be an expert but you can’t really understand autism unless you actually have it.
I often hear people asking why I am not like their son. Autism is a spectrum disorder. I am as different from Temple Grandin as she is from Vernon L. Smith who won the Nobel Prize for economics. For starters, I haven’t written any books like Grandin and I am not all that great with math like Smith, but I am comfortable with it. Many autistics are non-verbal. Others simply don’t know when to stop talking. Many are also blind. While others have synesthesia, which in some cases causes people to see letter and numbers as colors.
I should make it clear that I do not have synesthesia.
Not all autistics are men. Many are women. In fact, more and more women are being diagnosed with autism than ever before. Also, not all of us were diagnosed as children. I know a few who were diagnosed as adults. I was diagnosed as a teenager. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.
Aspies, as some of us like to refer to ourselves, often have difficulty interpreting social interactions. The degree to which this occurs varies from Aspie to Aspie. I remember, several years ago an Aspie friend, who shall remain nameless, came to visit me and my family after we had all gone out. He continued talking to us and sitting in the living room despite some of my families intimating that they were tired and going to bed. He even continued chatting with us from the living room after we had all gone to change to our pajamas. It was not until my mom told him we were going to bed and he needed to leave did he get the clue and leave.
I on the other hand am usually the first one to want to leave a friend’s house when it gets late.
Aspies can be clueless when it comes to social interactions, but we are also refreshingly honest. It’s not in our nature to act with guile or deception.
Where do I begin?
After sending out my farewell letter, I received a message from one of my friends that Ben Sherwood the president of ABC News had read my farewell letter aloud during one of the morning production meetings. Not too long afterword he called me to talk and tell me had read my letter. I felt like I was literally on cloud 9.
My internship ended and during my break I travelled to New Orleans for the Excellence in Journalism Conference. It was a chance to reconnect and with some old friends and meet some new ones. New Orleans is an amazing city full of music and good food. I learned a lot attending the different workshops and met some of my fellow ABC News colleagues.
New Orleans is a city like no other. Music is almost on every corner and in every building and of course there is that famous street in New Orleans which is a required stop in the city:
What ABC News colleagues if my internship is over? My internship did end but I a week before I left for New Orleans I was offered a position as a desk assistant at ABC News. I was shocked and surprised by the offer, but readily accepted it. As I mentioned in my previous post, it had been my dream to work at ABC News. Now that dream has begun to come to fruition. I firmly believe that hard work does pay off and in my case it did. My dream is beginning to happen.
Service and curiosity. Those two ideals are the best way to describe Sarah Paulsen. Paulsen is a print journalism major at Cal State Fullerton. Although it is her major it is not her calling. In high school Paulsen went on several mission trips. She traveled to Chile five times and to Mexico four times all the while balancing her classes and her work for her high school newspaper.
Now in her early twenties, Paulsen sat down for her interview with the Daily Titan wearing a light blue sweater and a light gray hat with a short brim that almost was similar to the design of an engineer’s cap. From underneath her cap brown hair gently flowed down the sides of her head well past her ears and just past her shoulders. Her clear skin seemed to glow in the flourescent lights as she spoke.
Beneath her wire rimmed glasses her brown eyes suggested a deep self-confidence and sense of purpose because her eyes never seemed to waver as she spoke, but her eyes became animated and her voice hinted at a sense of excitement as she talked about her writing.
Her non-wavering love of writing has helped her in her forward trajectory from a high school missionary to journalism student.
Her love of writing was, in fact, the primary reason for her decision to major in journalism. Even though Paulsen is majoring in journalism, she is not a student at CSUF She is,in fact, a student at Hope International University a Christian school, which resides across the street from CSUF. She is attending classes at CSUF through a cross-enrollment agreement between the two universities. Paulsen originally did not major in journalism instead she studied the ministry because she originally wanted to be a missionary but her love of writing got the best of her and she changed her major.
“ I started going to different countries, but I changed my mind and decided to stay here and write,” Paulsen said.
In her first two years of college Paulsen served as both copy editor and features editor for the Hope International Tribune. Of the two she loved feature writing because of what she could do with it.
“ I felt I wanted to write stories about people and things that have a positive impact,” Paulsen said.
Still, she is not picky about the stories she writes about as in everything she does her love of writing has influenced her in this area as well.
“ I love writing, so I could write about anything…even something small. Even if its not a popular story I would write about it,” Paulsen said.
Embedded video from CNN Video
Check out the dueling Palins at 2:48
This was fun to shoot!