Friday, September 30, 2011

A Canadian Aspergian speaks up


Today I have a guest post from a fellow Aspergian in Canada.

I've never ever known what Autism was like. Nor did I suspect that I may be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrom, who according to the DSM, is a mild form of Autism, and part of the Autism Spectrum. To me, Autism was a stigma, something to be ashamed of if you happened to have it, a form of social disability. I remember I was a high school senior in 1991 when Rainman came out, and Dustin Hoffman, who won an Oscar for his excellent portrayal of a Savant individual, seemed to me what "All Autistic People Look Like, Act and Behave".
 
My name is Steve Norris. But some of you may remember me as "Jim Perry", the name I went by before legally changing it in Ontario. The main reason I changed my name was to distance myself away from the past and turn a new page in my life, as someone who acknowledges and accepts his Asperger Syndrom, and lives with it rather than denying it. I was born in St. Catharines in 1973 to an Irish-Italian family. My father has never accepted me being a kid. He used to hurl insults at me as "stupid", "idiot" and claim that I was "odd", "weird" and "bizarre". My social interactions with my peers were poor since I could remember myself, and I was a target for physical assaults and bullying until I went to high school. Then the bullying stopped but I was still marginalized and ostricized. After my parent's divorce, my father became estranged, wanting nothing to do with the entire family. That's the main reason why I changed my name, so as not to carry his legacy.
  
In March 2011, I was officially diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrom. Finally I got an explanation as to what was "wrong" with me when it came to social interactions or failed employment opportunities. Drew and the office team were trying to help me out ever since (special thanks to Jay Burford who suspected I had Asperger in the summer of 2010). I gradually started to put my trust in Christ as well as learning what it's like to live with a mild form of Autism.
 
Recently, after a bitter break up with a fellow Autistic woman, I lost my shelter and clothes in the process as well as my monthly rent. Neurotypical friends and acquaintances I gathered in Toronto due to my volunteer activities garnered clothes for me and gave it to me. They also supported me throughout this tough time and it made me proud to realize that even though there were trying times when I thought I didn't fit, I finally and ultimately came to understand that the church has saved my life, and that I wouldn't be able to make it elsewhere.
 
 I hope to be able to use my newfound understanding about Autism to promote a better understanding between "mainstream society" ("Neurotypicals"), and the 3% of us who are born with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I hope to be an activist of promoting rights and accomodations for Disabled people in general, and Autistic ones - in particular.
 
Steve Norris
25 Tournament Drive
North York, ON  M2P 1K1
647-678-3032"

2 comments:

beechnutblog/breakingthestranglehold said...

Thanks for sharing this. I am also an AS sufferer although I was diagnosed way before that diagnosis was officially available. Here in the US, however, folks with this condition may have even greater difficulty in employment circles because the axis is tilted so heavily in favour of the employers. That is because in 49 of the 50 states at-will is the name of the game, and you can be fired for any reason or no reason and unless you have a union or other contract there is not a damn thing you can do about it legally. Maybe it's different in Canada, you could be the one to advise.

I am wondering if AS symptoms are different in different people with the condition. I was one who as a teenager and young adult was almost obsessively girl crazy, and an eye for the ladies has continued. And since the crackdown on sexual harassment began this has become a magnified liability for one like me. Actions that don't even come close to qualifying as such tend to be interpreted that way, and not long ago I was ousted from a job after developing an attraction for a woman who was my lead person on that job. It wasn't, however, a romantic type of attraction. I fought my ouster to the greatest extent I could and in over two years still have gotten nowhere. Am still looking for an advocate who could go to bat for my cause.

beechnutblog/breakingthestranglehold said...

Thanks for sharing this. I am also an AS sufferer although I was diagnosed way before that diagnosis was officially available. Here in the US, however, folks with this condition may have even greater difficulty in employment circles because the axis is tilted so heavily in favour of the employers. That is because in 49 of the 50 states at-will is the name of the game, and you can be fired for any reason or no reason and unless you have a union or other contract there is not a damn thing you can do about it legally. Maybe it's different in Canada, you could be the one to advise.

I am wondering if AS symptoms are different in different people with the condition. I was one who as a teenager and young adult was almost obsessively girl crazy, and an eye for the ladies has continued. And since the crackdown on sexual harassment began this has become a magnified liability for one like me. Actions that don't even come close to qualifying as such tend to be interpreted that way, and not long ago I was ousted from a job after developing an attraction for a woman who was my lead person on that job. It wasn't, however, a romantic type of attraction. I fought my ouster to the greatest extent I could and in over two years still have gotten nowhere. Am still looking for an advocate who could go to bat for my cause.