“If I did not have my work, I would not have my life,” says Temple Grandin. As Grandin says, work helps create a positive identity and a sense of self-worth. Success is very achievable when you work hard and are confident that you can succeed. One trait of people with autism is that they tend to have affinities: They are extremely knowledgeable in certain areas and topics. This is advantageous because then you can perform at a high level in that given field. Although autism can present certain challenges, success is a realistic goal that you can obtain with the right motivation and pathway. Below are some cool success stories to inspire you.
After having been rejected from various job opportunities, Cottle continued working hard in the food industry until he was able to open up his own bakery, Stuttering King Bakery. He followed his passion for cooking, studied entrepreneurship, and became the owner of his own shop. His mother helps him, but he takes care of the actual baking portion of the business. Cottle is an example, among many, of someone who can pursue their passion by not listening to rejection and creating their own path.
Prince-Hughes was diagnosed late in her life, at age 36, and struggled to fit in and find her place. She went through phases of homelessness, excessive drinking, and exotic dancing before she found her connection with the gorillas at the Woodland Park Zoo. Now, she in an anthropologist, researcher, and adjunct professor at Western Washington University. Reflecting on the impact of gorillas in her life, she says, “They gave me the whole range of human emotions and they also gave me a sense of responsibility.” She has also written a book, Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism.
Over the years Jonathan Murphy has accumulated an impressive resume with experiences with voiceover and movie positions. Diagnosed when he was 13, Jonathan had already started acting through his community theater. Murphy seemed to have found his affinity at a young age, pursuing it before and after he officially knew he had autism. A little later, he began doing voiceover acting and soon he had a voiceover board in his house, the first steps towards setting himself up for success. As an adult, his largest client is California’s Great America Theme Park, but that is only 1 of 16 clients. He has been in 6 commercials or films and over 13 theatrical plays. Murphy learned how to use his quirky creativity in a working industry, seeking companies who are looking for talent that match his.
Young started off as an intern at Goldman Sachs. After about two-months of the internship, he was offered a full-time job. He admits that this job lets him use his intelligence, but also challenges him. By working hard and facing each task, he has been able to move up and get promoted with the hopes of being “someone fairly big.” Although competing against “neuro-typical” employees, he has proven himself to be beneficial to the company and has maintained a high status within the company.
Inspired by social workers, tutors, and doctors who helped him throughout his life, Lytton works at New Horizons, a non-profit in California. After an internship doing research, he helped create an organization to promote ASD. He taught himself social skills that he had deficits in, such as reading non-verbal cues. He used these skills that he learned through reading to help people with disabilities learn how to obtain jobs. He pushes people to achieve their goals, but also makes sure that their clients are given proper accommodations. Lytton is an example of using his diagnosis as a tool to help those like him.
Jeremy Sicile-Kira: Artist
Synesthesia is when someone sees letters, words, and emotions as colors. Jeremy, along with autism, has synesthesia, which has allowed him to become an artist. Although he done many things, such as writing a book, being on MTV’s True Life: I have autism, and serving as a youth leader, his main talent is creating art through his colorful visions. He paints based on his dreams and the emotions he sees through people, selling this paintings through his growing gallery. He has met with important people (President Obama) and expressed what he sees in them onto canvas. Sicile-Kira can not speak but, instead, expresses what he sees through a paintbrush.
Each person has their own set of skills that they can use to be successful. To be successful, you must use your knowledge and passion to drive you forward. Having autism is not a roadblock to success. The people above each have used their passion to fulfill their niche in society. Just as they did, you have all the tools you need to be successful.