One of the biggest days of my life is almost here! Next week I can finally say I’m an author. My first book “Defining Autism From The Heart” based on my life with autism comes out on Monday. As a kid I could never have imagined this happening. For years I truly struggled with reading, comprehension, and writing. In high school I was able to turn my academics around and this laid the foundation for where I am now. Improving my ability to communicate was essential, but there was also another event that was pivotal to me making this announcement today.
Six years ago, I won a $1,000 scholarship from the Autism Society of America (ASA) for college. I went to the annual ASA conference in Arizona that year to receive the scholarship. While there I realized how being a self-advocate could lead to the opportunity to make a difference for so many people with autism. The book idea came to me when I was walking around the exhibit hall. There had to be a few hundred books about autism. After skimming through a few I realized that none of the books were about attending college with autism.
Seeing that bothered me. Of all books in that hall THAT was a book I wished was there. That would have been the one book that would have made me believe I could be successful in college. It was then I decided to commit a part of my college journey writing about my experiences to help the future generation by writing. That was the beginning of my self-advocacy and my writing.
Even though the college book is still a few years away I’m happy how that experience impacted me. I’ve been able to start my own blog, write a column here at Autism After 16 for over a year and also write for many other sites like Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, Love That Max, The SF Gate, Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America.
These experiences have shaped me and helped me improve my abilities to make a book possible. Now at 25 with this book complete, I’m already looking towards the future. While talking to an autism advocate a few months ago I mentioned that in a perfect world I’d like to contribute to 30 books by 30 years of age. A lofty expectation. I always seem to come back to that number now in my writing. I’d love to write that much if I had the content to back it up.
To get there I’m going back to what I learned in high school and through some of my strongest passions like basketball and theater. To get to the next level you have to be willing to push yourself towards your goals and be able to understand what’s going on around you. This means reflecting and understanding what I need to improve on. As I continue to write I hope to take more writing courses to build my technique into writing better stories. I see much of the writing I do now as conversational and I’d like to improve on painting a picture to an audience through storytelling.
If all goes well I hope this one book in time will turn into several to help spread awareness for autism. The goal will always be to help individuals be educated on autism in our society. The biggest day in my life hopefully will be repeated in the days and years ahead!