by Lucas Gates (Vancouver, B.C.)
Today, I’m extremely proud to be a person on the Autism spectrum. I can just simply be me, without the usual judgement and stigmatization back when I was a kid. The world today is opening up to inclusion and acceptance. Normal doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Attitudes today are adjusting to accept everyone, not just people who are neuro-typical.
As a 25-year-old living on the spectrum, it hasn’t always been easy, but that didn’t deter me from helping others. When I was first diagnosed, resources were scarce. First grade teachers didn’t a have grasp on what Autism was.
I’ve had people put me down, be negative and say things like I would never get a job, never take the bus or be completely independent. Today, all three of those statements are now moot and here’s why:
- I’m working at the Pacific Autism Family Network as an Ambassador of the Richmond Hub.
- I take the bus to and from work, and I’m teaching my younger sister how to take transit.
- I’m doing things independently from my parents, despite the fact I still live at home.
Today, I can be open about my diagnosis. Employers are starting to warm up to hiring people with diverse needs. Think of that – being open about your diagnosis might make a workplace better than it was before!
My advice to others is being you is a good thing. Don’t shelter yourself because you feel ashamed of being different. You are you! And we all have a right to be included. So, believe me, if people put you down, don’t believe their nonsense.
Be yourself, and don’t live under other people’s expectations. Just show them who you really are!
Lucas’s story was featured through the STORYHIVE initiative supported by Telus. You can watch it on Youtube here.