My Journey with Autism

I was initially diagnosed on November 22, 1989 at the age of 3 by doctors of the US Department of Defense. We were stationed at Ben Franklin Village in Mannheim, Germany outside of Frankfurt next to Heidelberg. We’d been there since January 1988 when we left my birthplace at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. My first teacher now a very good friend of mine helped me find my first words not long after I was diagnosed. Before she left back for the States to care for her Dad, she told my Parents that the public Schools in the States would write me off as disabled, and told them not to allow that to happen. We left in January 1992, first to Santa Rosa, California where my Mom grew up, then to San Antonio in July of that year. What I didn’t know was my Mom was very sick with Cancer. Over the 1990s growing up, she was sick a number of times and had multiple surgeries. She was raising me to stand on my own because nobody was going to be willing to be there for me at that time. Meanwhile the Administrators at School continued to fight with my Mom as they tried to write me off as a lost cause just as Penny warned us about. My Mom also would help run two businesses in San Antonio. If any of you are in San Antonio and remember Black Cat Taxi between 1992 and 1999, my Stepdad was the owner and Mom the bookkeeper. My Mom and Stepdad raised me over the years to be as self sustaining as possible due to Mom being sick. Nobody except for me would do anything I needed so it was up to me to make it happen. “Make it happen” I was constantly told. Work for it, fight for it, ask for it, go for it. I was being prepared for the possibility of losing my Mom. Her last surgery related to sickness was in 1999. After that she was no longer sick. I’m 33 and still have my Mom. It wasn’t over yet, because I moved back to Sonoma County, in California to the town of Windsor in 2001. The third of four Autism evaluations was later in my Freshman Year in February 2002. Autism for the third time. Instead of Windsor High writing me off, they fed the fire and offered me everything they could, including temporary job placement to gauge my readiness for the professional world. My Senior Year began in August 2004, and my Senior Project I chose to be public service. The Sheriffs Deputy SRO at the time has just the idea. Ideas of joining the Marines or Law Enforcement, it was suggested that I give Security a try. I went for it being 18 already. October 1, 2004 was the beginning of the project and my career in Security. I graduated on June 17, 2005, and remained in my profession which I continue to do to this day, nearly 15 years after it began. I’ve worked Asset Protection for some of the largest corporations in the world, including my current job. I’ve worked an internship in Executive Protection in Las Vegas, have worked as an Investigations Specialist, and have volunteered my skills searching for Missing/Wanted persons via social media and field intelligence. It’s had its ups and downs. The lowest point was helping Police investigate the disappearance and murder of one of my own coworkers two years ago, while dealing with the fires in Wine Country where my family is, and the attack in Las Vegas which took a friend of mine along with having classmates who survived just a week before the fires. About a third of the way through my career, I began to doubt my diagnosis. I got myself evaluated in April 2010. Despite all of this, I still have Autism. It didn’t bother me and still doesn’t. A lot of what I’ve done in my career really took off after this 2010 Diagnosis. I’m now engaged to be married and continue to work full time. I own a car that I make payments on, and paid off my last car before it got totaled by no fault of mine(hit from behind). Last year was when I visited my Mom last and we sat down and talked about all of this. She told me that I ended up much better off than even she thought in my early years. As High School dragged on, her and my Stepdad along with many others kept pushing me along and throwing challenges at me. Yeah, I sucked at some but the large Irish family we are, nobody’s allowed to throw in the towel. My hope is you don’t throw in your towel, because this world is full of surprises.
Parents Reply Children
  • It’s been borderline insane at times. My fiancé also has Autism, as do my 9 year old Nephew, and 18 year old Cousin. My Nephew is mostly non-verbal, and my Cousin’s primary diagnosis is Down Syndrome. My Nephew was diagnosed at age 3 like I was. My Sister for the longest time blamed herself and how she treated me when we were younger for her son having Autism. It came to a point where I had to send my sister a lengthy text. I told her to stop blaming herself, because she didn’t cause Logan’s Autism. At this point I think it’s Genetic actually because there’s no other reason why 3 members of a family will have Autism that I can think of. My fiancé is one of multiple people with it in hers too. Her cousin and uncle had it before they each passed. I’ve told my Sister and her husband never to blame themselves for this very reason. Being that I’m as mild on the spectrum as I am and having the life experience I have, it’s safe to say I’ve had to be a teacher to the one of my two sisters that before all of this with my Nephew, we hated each other. Things work in strange ways I suppose and now we’re close.
  • JD thank you for your inspiration and never trowing in the towel. i will be 23 in 2 days and had some ups and downs but there are people in my life who encouraged me to never give up and don't let Autism control your life. you can still have it but you can live a normal life like everyone else. just don't be afraid to try. i always have to listen at adults for they are guiding me in to an adult life. in a few years i hope i'll look back and say, wow, i've gotten off better than i did before. but it's gonna be a long road ahead.
  • I think right now we are all facing a hard time. I’m facing the harshest times I’ve ever experienced in my career. That says a lot given what I’ve seen and experienced in the past 15.5 years.

  • it's all right to have a hardship going on right now. and i could totally relate, but this soon will pass. if you keep God in your faith.