You Don’t Need to Open Your Wallet to Give

Christmas and Hanukkah are around the corner. Two major religious holidays that celebrate miracles and the ideas of gift-giving and charity, besides having a religious identity. As an organization devoted to charity, we at the Els Foundation stress exactly the importance of material giving but, even more than a simple cash donation, improving the lives of those with autism, holding up pillars in our community, and listening to those with the condition are also very important to us.

The donations that we receive also allow the Foundation to employ someone like me, an actual ASD personality, to write these blog posts, edit various important company manuals, and to serve as a role model to the community-at-large. It’s not just advocating from abroad, but advocating from home. Plus, the donations go to a state-of-the-art professional school, the Center of Excellence, whose purpose is to give autistic kids a sensory-friendly environment in which to improve on their skills and to get an education.

As many readers would know, autism was officially diagnosed by the U.S. Government in 1990, and Asperger’s, my condition, in 1994. Thus, because of the relatively recent nature of the condition, our mission is more experimental and cutting-edge than many organizations devoted to pursuing answers to different disabilities. It is up to potential donors to go to the oasis brands in the desert, especially in a county as large as Palm Beach, and to make history!

But, beyond autism, part of our mission is to create a more inclusive environment through the game of golf with #GameON Autism™ Golf. Golf is a huge industry, with lucrative careers and a thriving culture on the greens. Beyond that, the Els’ mission is to also pinpoint the strengths of golf as a source to challenge, and improve on disability. You don’t need to be an atlas to succeed in golf, which requires patience, practice, determination, perseverance and a connection to the soul of the sport. It could introduce an autistic individual to a new favorite sport, and, perhaps, could also give that same person a great and highly fulfilling livelihood.

Nonetheless, cash donations are not the only way to celebrate the spirit of this Foundation.

There have been many stories this past year that illustrate my point.-  A football player sitting with an autistic kid at lunch and a cheerleader asking an autistic kid to prom are two that come to mind.- These are individuals that use their prominence and positions within the greater community to help out those who may feel lonely or set apart from their peers. In the spirit of the holiday, perhaps consider helping someone who may be quieter or feel isolation and reach out to them. Who is outside of your typical friendship unit? Do you know someone who needs help? Just because someone doesn’t say a word, doesn’t mean that they are always comfortable or satisfied with the way everything is around them. Everyone appreciates a little kindness so pass it on!

If you have a friend with autism, take them out to enjoy and share an experience with them. Or, if you know someone who has a crush, offer to take them both out to the movies or a holiday parade, or perhaps take them to a dance, if the crush is with you. Tell the person on the spectrum how much you appreciate them, and for those of us with autism, I recommend trying something new.

Do something new. Be something new. Whether on the spectrum or not, we all can benefit from extra compassion and opening our hearts to others who need it most. Happy holidays to all. Thank you for joining me on the journey through this blog.



For The Love of Autism: A Realistic Story on “Love”

Generally, in the past, the common elements of inspiration from parent to child have been the eventual life of a home, a job, and a spouse. Now, as I mentioned in my first post, just telling someone on the spectrum to “get a job” isn’t as easy as it seems. A home could be possible with two incomes, , but having two incomes would require both participants to have jobs first. A later blog post may also offer other potential challenges about the “home” situation, like a transitional period where you may have to have roommates. And that brings us to the wife situation.

I remember reading somewhere that 10% of all autistic adults are married, which shocked me, somewhat. First reading about the employment statistics, and now this!? Hell, if you were an autistic adult, having a full-time job, which is a lot less common than those employed with autism who work part-time, and being a husband, or wife, would already make you sort of an outlier according to all of these statistics. Even the Natural Variation – Autism Blog, which champions neurodiversity, has put out statistics that show that 33% of autistic individuals, in general, are married, while 7% are divorced/separated/widowed, which means that 40% of all autistic adults have been married in their lives. While, according to the comparable statistics, the divorce rate is higher for neurotypicals,, it still counts that 76% of neurotypicals HAVE been married at some point in their lives, so what gives?

But you didn’t come here just to get statistics, graphs and models on the subject of autistic marriage, right? You came here to see if your new friend could give some “insights” on the subject.

I’ve lived on this Earth for over 30 years. And through those 30 years, I’ve never been married, in fact I’ve never been in a relationship before. And it is not that I don’t want one, I am dying for the kind of relationship that I would like. A beautiful woman, who would make me feel young, who doesn’t have the same eccentricities that I have, except for one or two, and who can tolerate my mind. I may not feel depressed again as long as she is with me. Wouldn’t it be so easy to find one?

Well, one of my educated guesses on why the statistic is the way it is may not be completely about incompatible social communication, but it is about one word: shyness.

It has usually been that I am not completely in love to talk to people who I don’t know, sometimes, though I do have a strong desire to open up to people, perhaps stronger than many neurotypicals do. It has also not been in my favor, that the girls, and women, that I’ve wanted over the years were completely unattainable to me, since I am overweight and don’t feel attractive. It has been so difficult walking the world alone, thinking that a miracle could happen, I guess now I know how a monk feels.

For example, for my Middle School’s farewell dance, there was a girl there who I really wanted to go out with, and I had this temptation to dance with her. Unfortunately I couldn’t even ask her myself, so I sent my best friend at the time as sort of a messenger to relay our messages back to each other. Eventually after a disembodied conversation, that same girl told me that she wasn’t “ready yet”.

But, to me, the opposite gender, especially the neurotypical types, are still not completely blameless in this field. I don’t know who came up with the rules of romantic engagement and initiation, it seems like an instinctual rule that has been passed down since the beginning of time, but this one rule makes my shyness even worse. What rule am I talking about? That the man has to initiate a conversation. Many autistic individuals who have desires for romantic relationships may be very shy. They may feel a sense of nervousness and anxiety, due to any feeling of undesired social awkwardness on their parts. What that rule does is it privileges the playboy over the geek, the madman over the quiet genius, and it really should end. Now, not all women are like this, nor are all assertive guys like it either, but we live in the 21st century and all old unwritten rules should be updated for these contemporary times.

In conclusion: You can’t go wrong dating someone with autism, even if you feel worlds apart. Love isn’t based on material things, it isn’t based on job security, what it is based on, is love.