Hello, for all intents and purposes, I go by the writer’s alias “Serge C Catzen.” My life history is a long story. I was born in Chile and placed up for adoption shortly after I was born. I was born after my mother fell down the stairs which caused a stress induced labor 4 months early. I was adopted at 5 months old and moved to St. Louis Missouri. I was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3, which later in my school years was made “high functioning autism”. Living with autism has not been a crutch or a burden for me. I do not feel my autism is a hindrance. The only group of people who believe my autism is a hindrance, is people who are in power. I feel they are attempting to oppress me, but it is not working and they are becoming more and more angry.
A long time ago I felt I was treated differently because of the diagnosis of autism. I now know it was just an act because later on in life those same people apologized for the way they treated me. I feel any differential treatment is either:
a) Due to media propaganda
b) Social stigmata
c) It’s due to being in the box of “how I was raised”
I believe culture is slowly beginning to accept us now. However, I have noticed that people in power are pushing that not to be so. As I’ve gotten older, I have become more self aware and the petty little things don’t matter anymore.
I am now 28 years old, and have a hard time answering if the community has met my needs, because I care more about what I can give than what I can get. I do feel that I can actively contribute to the community in several ways regardless of my disabilities. Thus far, I have worked at several businesses that treasure my contribution and have a wide range of friends and close people I network with. I went to post secondary school for graphic arts and multi-media, have worked in sales and done janitorial work and light office duty. I also refurbish computers as a side business. I am currently job searching, but have high hopes.
I feel organizations are beginning to be more accepting of people with disabilities. I worked for a pilot program at Medtronic where myself and another individual with disabilities did light office work in a marketing group. Although, I benefited from the things I learned, I feel the other people at Medtronic probably benefited more. They were able to see what my individual strengths were and not only see me as someone who is of the autism spectrum.
Although there are people with disabilities that need a lot of support, I sometimes feel that standard is often applied to me which can be a hindrance. For example, I was enjoying a pop at a local bar and a woman approached me several times and started inquiring where my caregivers where. I tried to explain that I can be alone in the community, but she did not listen. She instead had one of her friends write down our license plate number and then phoned the police and reported neglect. I understand where she is coming from and that her intentions were well met, however, people with disabilities should not be lumped into one category. We are all different, unique individuals and should be treated that way.
I feel it’s important to play an active role in the changes I want to see. I am a member of our organizations’ Consumer Advocacy Group. We have written letters to our Human Resources department on what qualities we would like to see in staff and on different hiring tips. We have also written letters to the mayor of Maple Grove and to President Obama on working with people with disabilities. We often plan weekend activities for the other consumers that live in our homes. These activities encourage us to get out on the community and make new friends.
I was taught by Gandhi to be the change I want to see in the world (and that can be hard). If I want others to be more accepting of me, I need to be more accepting of others. I feel everyone can be taught a little more acceptance of not only people with disabilities, but of all different cultures as well, because we are all on some sort of spectrum.