Thursday, March 29, 2012

American General Media Interviews Jesse A. Saperstein

American General Media sits down with Jesse to talk about his life with Asperger's, how Jesse is helping others, and Jesse's ANTI-BULLYING campaign.

Listen to the interviews with us.
Please click links below...

Part One:



Part Two:



Part Three:




Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jesse Saperstein: A Role Model for Change

By Cara Bateman, SpecialNeeds.com/Parent Magazine


When asked why he would jump out of a plane, Jesse Saperstein does not hesitate to reply, “Because I’m insane.” All humor aside, he adds, “I thought it would be an exciting an creative way to stop bullying.” Indeed -- is there anything more exciting than skydiving?

Jesse Saperstein is a best-selling author and champion of the anti-bullying movement. His video “Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012” is a major step towards putting an end to bullying, both inside and outside the classroom. Jesse himself is no stranger to bullying -- he has Asperger’s syndrome, and he suffered from bullying in school from an early age. His video features Jesse skydiving as well as personal experiences from other children with forms of autism.

Jesse’s journey towards increasing public awareness about Asperger’s has been a long and tough one. Jesse feels like he and others missed some opportunities because people were uncomfortable around him, but he ascribes to the philosophy “if you throw enough spaghetti on the wall, eventually something will stick.” In 2005, Jesse hiked the Appalachian Trail, which took seven months and nine days. Jesse describes the 2,174 miles as a “slow race that never, ever ends.” Jesse was able to raise thousands of dollars for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and even though people treating him like a hero was a short-lived event, it “showed people what I could accomplish. I saw attitudes change.”

Jesse wants this attitude change to spread across the country. He says the suffering children who are bullied go through is unnecessary.

With the release of his book (Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters) and video, Jesse said people finally gave him a chance. “My head swelled up to the size of a Macy’s Thanksgiving parade balloon,” he says. When it deflated, he says, he was able to give speeches to schools, clubs, and other communities. He is able to show people that there is more to Asperger’s than meets the eye; there is more than what is in the DSM IV, and Jesse “wants them to see what has made my life special.” Jesse hopes that these positive qualities and accomplishments about Asperger’s will be more synonymous with the word.

Jesse says “nobody should have to jump out of a plane to get attention and respect.” Jesse does not call himself a hero, but rather he says the children in his video who are bullied because of autism are the real heroes. “It’s the hardest thing to talk about autism in a public venue,” he says.

Jesse’s video is just one step towards putting an end to bullying. He places some responsibility on people with autism -- “they have to become people who do what they say they’re going to,” he says. He wants these children to advocate for themselves, and like Temple Grandin, he suggests that autism is no excuse for inappropriate behavior.

Additionally, Jesse calls on the public to give people with autism an incentive to do better. He asks that people take another look rather than judging and fearing after a first impression. Jesse says fearing those individuals who are awkward is just as irrational as thinking “normal” looking people cannot cause harm. He wants the public to ask questions -- people with autism would rather answer a question than be feared or ignored.

Suffering from bullying is unnecessary, and Jesse believes that education is the greatest opportunity for change. As the clinical definition and stigma surrounding autism changes, people will begin to realize the capabilities people with autism have, and their ability to contribute to society. Jesse proposes a class taught in every school, similar to a health class, which provides students with information regarding disorders such as autism and the drastic psychological consequences of bullying; when peers understand the disabilities, they are less likely to fear or judge them.

Jesse knows minds can change. Help spread the anti-bullying movement -- share Jesse’s video www.youtube.com/jessesaperstein.

About the Author:
Jesse A. Saperstein is a best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker. He is considered one of the most respected leaders in the Anti-Bullying movement ofhis generation. Jesse has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome (AS). Individuals with Asperger’s are impaired by a profound lack of social skills, common sense, and resistance to change in routine.

After graduating from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2004 with a BA degree in English, Saperstein set out to conquer the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail to benefit the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. He began hiking from Georgia to Maine on March 9, 2005 and successfully completed the journey on October 18, 2005, raising more than $19,000 for children to attend summer camp who had contracted HIV/AIDS through prenatal transmission. Shortly after his hike ended, Saperstein was exposed to some of the cruel realities of living as an adult on the autism spectrum and was treated as a social pariah by members of the community who did not understand. His decision to write a book was an opportunity to escape these realities and advocate for his peers who are not always granted a voice.

Saperstein’s story, “Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters,” was published by Penguin Group (USA) in April 2010 and became a popular memoir due to its practical advice and outrageous humor. He chronicles his misadventures and extremes to improve his social skills. The book quickly rose to the top of Amazon.com and placed Saperstein as a dynamic media personality, motivational speaker and most important, an advocate for people with disabilities. After receiving a grant from Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) in Staatsburg, New York, Saperstein completed his first skydiving jump in front of his community in an effort to eradicate bullying. “Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012" is currently a popular video on YouTube (www.youtube.com/jessesaperstein). Saperstein resides in Pleasant Valley, New York.

For more information about Jesse A. Saperstein, visit www.jessesaperstein.com.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Anti-Bully Activist Jesse Saperstein Urges Students to "Give 'em Something That Resembles a Fighting Chance"


When student members of the Cohoes Anti-Bullying Committee were asked what they thought would be an effective motivator to help students embrace more tolerant attitudes toward their classmates, they said "to hear from someone who had been a victim of bullying." Enter Jesse Saperstein: an author and activist who has turned his years of being bullied into a powerful teaching tool for young people.

Appearing at Cohoes High School on November 3, Saperstein brought a mix of humor and humility as he shared his life story with an audience that included students, parents, teachers, and staff. Diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 14, Saperstein told the crowd that his experience as a victim of bullying began before he was diagnosed with the Autism Spectrum Disorder that causes those afflicted to suffer great difficulties in most social situations.
"Kids just thought I was weird," said Saperstein, the author of Atypical: Life With Asperger's in 20 1/3 Chapters. 
"I was obsessed with the postal system. I would say inappropriate things at inappropriate times. At the time, I didn't know that these were things Asperger's Syndrome could cause and they didn't know either."
Saperstein described how those relatively stable early years gave way to intense bullying, including cyberbullying, during his teen years and beyond. "It doesn't get easier as you move into adulthood," noted Saperstein as he told story after story about the misunderstandings and miscommunications that are a hallmark of Asperger's Syndrome.

One anecdote involved Mr. Saperstein's lack of subtlety in admiring a female teller at his local bank. Confronted by the bank manager after a particularly long look at the teller, Saperstein explained that he was not trying to make anyone uncomfortable and explained that people with Asperger's and autism don't often recognize common social cues. To that, the manager responded coldly, "Is STARING part of your autism?"

"Staring and not getting caught is a fine art form," Saperstein wryly noted.

Of his cyberbullying, the author told of a disturbing set-up by high school classmates, who concocted a fictional girlfriend named "Elizabeth West" who would contact Saperstein regularly via computer chat, something that was relatively new in the late 1990s. The aggressors were so invested in their scheme to harrass Saperstein, they persuaded a girl to pose as Elizabeth West and meet him at a local restaurant to continue their relationship.
"I thought the people who had been tormenting me were my friends. Six months went by before I discovered Elizabeth was not even real," recalled Saperstein. 


 "Cyberbullying is the most cowardly act imaginable. Their bullying campaign didn't even give me a fighting chance.

He added, "If there is any advice I can give to kids who may even contemplate bullying, it would be to give them (the targets of bullying) something that resembles a fighting chance."

Saperstein told the CHS audience how he has been able to successfully channel the negative energy he has encountered since middle school. He began with a 2,174 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine that took 7 months and nine days to complete. His trek raised $19,000 for pediatric AIDS research. 


"The only negative energy is energy that negates any positive action," he said.

Students at Cohoes High School shared their feelings about bullying through works of art created during the month of October. As part of the evening's presentation, the audience viewed a video featuring the artwork.
Book Jesse to Speak at Your School or Conference
Contact PR@DPlump.com

Monday, March 19, 2012

MEDIA ALERT - JESSE SAPERSTEIN LAUNCHES NATIONWIDE ANTI-BULLYING CAMPAIGN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
D. Plump Consulting
Email: PR@DPlump.com

Autistic Man Free Falls to End Bullying,
14,000 Feet Above Ground

Best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker Jesse A. Saperstein is spreading an Anti-Bullying movement across America with his “Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012” YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/jessesaperstein), hoping to put an end to torment in and out of the classroom.

29-year-old best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker Jesse A. Saperstein has launched the “Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012" (www.youtube.com/jessesaperstein) campaign as part of his zero tolerance, nationwide Anti-Bullying movement. Saperstein, who has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome (AS), has suffered bullying from peers starting at an early age in school. The “Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012" video shows Jesse jumping from an airplane 14,000 feet above the face of the earth, featuring the vocals of Grammy-winning artist Taylor Swift and her Grammy-winning song, “Mean.” It is the first video to feature an extreme sport and children with autism sharing their personal experiences.
“For a long time, my peers led me to believe that my abuse was self-inflicted," says Saperstein. "Now, I know better and want to bring awareness to the tragedies of bullying and make sure others no longer have to suffer and endure the fight alone."
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDP), 1 in every 110 children in America is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), making autism more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer, and pediatric AIDS combined. ASD is a range of complex neurodevelopmental disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication challenges, and restricted, repetitive, or stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include milder forms known as Asperger's syndrome (AS), Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) and Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).


The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) reports bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents. Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and the Bully Police of Minnesota states that 94% of children with a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome faced peer victimization including emotional bullying (75%) and gang attacks (15%). Children who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere with their social and emotional development, as well as their school performance. Some victims of bullying have even chosen suicide rather than continuing to endure such harassment and torture.

"Nobody should have to jump out of a perfectly safe airplane to see better days. Let this be the first generation to enjoy acceptance while having something to fight for. It cannot get better someday. It will become better TODAY," says Saperstein.

Saperstein says he's not suggesting that everyone jumps out of a plane. Instead, he urges the public - children and adults - to find their own unique way to become heroic. "It's time to advocate for those who deserve a friend. Or give somebody a voice that has been silenced by abuse and ignorance. The person you fight for today could be the life you're saving tonight."
"Jesse changed my life," says 10-year-old Todd Weaver of Hyde Park, New York. "I see my Asperger's like my super power now. Jesse really made a difference in my life, and now I want to help other kids like me in the same way."
Saperstein visits schools on a regular basis and has been successful with stomping out bullying or at least dramatically alleviating it with every presentation. He is currently working on initiatives to pioneer a middle/high school class in New York State that will be similar to health, but shall focus on educating young people about misunderstood disabilities as well as the psychological and legal consequences of bullying.

For more information about Jesse A. Saperstein visit www.jessesaperstein.com.

For speaking inquiries and press interviews, contact D. Plump Consulting at pr@dplump.com.

About Jesse A. Saperstein:
Jesse A. Saperstein is a best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker. He is considered one of the most respected leaders in the Anti-Bullying movement of his generation. Jesse has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome (AS). Individuals with Asperger’s are impaired by a profound lack of social skills, common sense, and resistance to change in routine.

After graduating from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2004 with a BA degree in English, Saperstein set out to conquer the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail to benefit the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. He began hiking from Georgia to Maine on March 9, 2005 and successfully completed the journey on October 18, 2005, raising more than $19,000 for children to attend summer camp who had contracted HIV/AIDS through prenatal transmission. Shortly after his hike ended, Saperstein was exposed to some of the cruel realities of living as an adult on the autism spectrum and was treated as a social pariah by members of the community who did not understand. His decision to write a book was an opportunity to escape these realities and advocate for his peers who are not always granted a voice.

Saperstein’s story, “Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters,” was published by Penguin Group (USA) in April 2010 and became a popular memoir due to its practical advice and outrageous humor. He chronicles his misadventures and extremes to improve his social skills. The book quickly rose to the top of Amazon.com and placed Saperstein as a dynamic media personality, motivational speaker and most important, an advocate for people with disabilities. After receiving a grant from Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) in Staatsburg, New York, Saperstein completed his first skydiving jump in front of his community in an effort to eradicate bullying. “Free-Falling to End Bullying in 2012" is currently a popular video on YouTube (www.youtube.com/jessesaperstein). Saperstein resides in Pleasant Valley, New York.

For more information about Jesse A. Saperstein, visit www.jessesaperstein.com.
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Update about my Escape to the Glorious Florida Peninsula


I have now entered the third week of my Florida Working Vacation.  I arrived here on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 and am leaving here on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012.  It is weird and incredible at the same time.  But mostly incredible.  This is the longest I have ever been anywhere nice unless you count my semester studying abroad in Bath, England.  Vacations are always gone in the REM blink of an eye.  Just a taste of paradise and nothing more.


Over the years I have not been able to take many vacations.  The ones that I did take were only a week long and often ruined by work-related responsibilities.  It is not fair, but the adult world often shows little mercy.  This is just the way things are and the consequences for “taking a break” can be absolutely devastating.  Yes.  I know there are plenty of others who have far worse realities, but this is not the point.

Therefore, my only solution was to loaf down here for three solid weeks and bring my work with me.  It is quite an experience and I would like to believe the time is being utilized consistently.  Every single day something important is completed in an environment where spring is as it should be.  The flowers are actually in bloom in seventy-plus degree weather and rain is consistent, but not relentless.  It never lasts very long and the sun soon comes out to gloss over any remnants of nature’s fury.
                                                                       
This is unlike any vacation in a hair under thirty years of life.  Paradise is prolonged without the constant pressure to seize every second of a given day.  Rush, rush, rush, and need to take another vacation to make up for the one you just “enjoyed.”  If one or two days are squandered in laziness then it is not the end of the world because there are multiple opportunities to overcompensate later on in the week.  Right now, I am helping my publicist, Daphne Plump create the new web page, by giving her this blog as well as all the past ones.  Much of my time is spent helping her initiate the publicity campaign, which should give me a fresh start.  Perhaps this is why I am here.  To give myself a fresh start while shaving three weeks off winter.

My time in the Land of Florida has also been spent trying to lose weight.  I am now inching my way down to the 190 pound mark and hope to reach the 180 region by the time I leave.  The consequences of sitting on my butt answering too many e-mails have finally taken their toll.  Ringing Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus actually called last week to ask whether they could pay me $50.00 per day to serve as their “World’s Fattest Man.”  Alright!  Maybe this did not actually happen, but if I keep it up then this could very well be my future.

Most important, I have a great deal of time to spend with my grandmother who is 83 years young.  I serve as her chauffeur during nighttime driving and try to take breaks from the computer once in a while to join her watching television.  Tonight we just saw the movie, “My Week with Marilyn.”  For three weeks, I have shed my self-martyr complex and am trying to just enjoy my time in the Veritable Garden of Eden.  And these three weeks are actually going very fast!

At least once in a person’s life, it is important to make compromises and do something for yourself.  This is finally my time.  I am going to take my working vacation and return stronger than before.  I know everyone will be waiting with big smiles on your faces in just a week’s time!