Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jumping of the Face of the Earth into Mercy

When we are young…the new adventures in life seem much more potent.  Driving has become something of a reflex for me, but I still remember the thrill of driving alone for the first time with a new license.  It was raw and exciting.  I also maintain those memories of traveling Europe on my own during a vacation from a study abroad program in Bath, England.  There is one thrill I have not yet experienced and it is the exhilaration of a lifetime.  Skydiving!!

Another one of my flamboyant ideas has been forming nonstop.  I would desperately like to go skydiving this summer and film an anti-bullying campaign.  The theme will be to plunge off the face of the earth into a cushion of understanding and mercy.  Let’s start off the 2011-2012 school year on a thrilling note.

My family has been pressuring me to suspend the jump until the end of summer when I initially was planning on doing it in a few weeks.  In my opinion, bullying does not take a vacation even when school does.  The torment I sometimes endured over the summer in Day Camp was just an extension of the school year.  But I definitely want the video to make as much of an impact as possible.  My family is not always right and sometimes their guidance is abominable.  They could be right about this one, however.

In accordance with my fantasies…I would like the entire community to wait at the ground when I descend from the heavens.  They will be holding up signs and chanting anti-bullying slogans.  The theme of this video will be the same as the speech filmed at Arlington Middle School last November.  Someday Has to Be Today. Until someone can dangle a crystal ball over someone’s head and predict the definite future, someday is not good enough!  Things did not get much better for me until my book was published in 2010.  Nobody should be forced to go through the extremes I went through in order to earn respect from society.

My previous attempts to promote the anti-bullying campaign have not worked as well as I have hoped.  Maybe things will turn for the better with this new stunt and it is going to circulate like wildfire.  How does a YouTube video even become popular?  I mean…some of them are just so silly like the one with the two girls singing the Justin Bieber as their weird father is dancing in the background.   If the public does not pay attention to a man with autism jumping out of a perfectly functional plane then perhaps nothing will ever work!

Come join me around August 15th, 2011 and launch off the 2011-2012 school year before it begins.  The right way!  It feels good to have such profound support from the community and this is going to be their video, too.  Have a great summer and hope you have goals to keep you occupied.  As for me, I will spend the entire summer working diligently on my second book, which will be titled, Transitioning to Success.  It is going to focus on the often-brutal transition from childhood to full-blown adulthood.  The writing process will grow much easier because I always have so much more energy during the summer months.

I always want to fill up the whole page when writing a new blog entry so I will try to fill in the rest with nonsense.  Sooo….have any of you dared to wade into your frigid pools for the unofficial start of summer.  Rejoice in the summer and know that bullying will not take a vacation even when school does.  I will work hard to make sure your kids have a better chance of earning mercy and acceptance when they say goodbye to their beautiful summer.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Meeting the Great One!

Three days ago, on the evening of Tuesday, May 24th, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Temple Grandin at the annual Benefit for the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP), Inc. in New York City.  For those blog viewers who do not know who she is…Dr. Grandin is the most famous individual with autism in the entire world!

It was disappointing to meet Dr. Grandin only because I expected too much.  Dr. Grandin was neither rude or gregarious when she spoke with me and a few others.  My soul split in two when she did not remember reading my book and calling up my editor to rave about my writing.  She did not remember how much her endorsement of, “Brilliant creative writing.  His next book should be a novel” meant to me during the early stages of my writing career.  It is easy to go into the experience and forget that Dr. Grandin is still burdened by the realities of autism.  Social situations will always be cumbersome and perhaps this was a difficult night.  I was able to give her a break and not take it personally, however.  Like the rest of the world, I judged her on accomplishments and intentions as opposed to whether she chose to be the life of the party that particular night.

We walked around the William Bennett Gallery admiring the beautiful artwork and struggling to mingle.  It felt great to meet at least a few people who have found their place in the world as individuals on the autism spectrum.  They were at least employed and not miserable like I have been in the past.  Dr. Grandin’s caliber and the joyous atmosphere did not reflect on the common, sad realities faced by so many of my peers.

It is important to keep in mind that most individuals on the autism spectrum do not have HBO movies and/or books on their resume.  Like Dr. Grandin, people have been judging me on my accomplishments as opposed to the benign weirdness that has provoked society to crucify me in the past.  Most individuals on the autism spectrum fail to receive the “break” they deserve.  It is not fair and is not part of life.  It is a living nightmare.

Hard work and perseverance definitely make a huge difference.  But success will never transpire unless society takes the time to recognize those talents that have allowed Dr. Grandin to have a chance and eventually achieve the celebrity status only reserved for a minute percentage of the population.  I am trying to build on the celebrity status that has been created by Atypical:  Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters.  My next accomplishment will hopefully be to date Jennifer Love Hewitt in the precious span of time she is single.  I will happily be a pioneer to show the world that beautiful women do exist who will take a romantic interest in men who will always be square pegs grinding their way into a round hole.  On that note, Dr. Temple Grandin was presented with the “Distinguished Spectrumite Award.”  Her award was a round peg drilled inside a square hole.  We must sometimes revise the way we look at things and judge how individuals fit into society.  There is nothing more pathetic than talent that is squandered because of a few personality quirks like the ones Dr. Grandin exhibited all night long.

It was easy to take it personally when Dr. Grandin did not seem interested in conversing with me and looked straight ahead.  This was not the public orator I saw at Ulster Community College who was forcing herself to perform in front of many hundreds of people.  But this is autism and it will continue to shine even throughout the most phenomenal successes. She was gracious, however, when I requested a photograph with her and gave me her contact information.  So many public figures would not have done this and those who care about individuals on the autism spectrum will recognize these redeeming qualities.  Anything less will result in doomed first impressions and stillborn chances for these unique individuals…