Rachel Hennessey's article about autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire treats him as a canny entrepreneur who everyone can learn from, not just a magically gifted savant:
Stephen has had plenty of chances to stop making art — whether due to obstacles or as a result of reaching a high level of success. Trying to think of reasons that an artist may be tempted to retire, I asked him if his hand ever gets tired because the landscapes he draws are often massive and highly detailed. “Not at all,” was his entire response, verbatim. Maybe a sore hand isn’t going to stop him from making art, but perhaps reaching a level of financial satisfaction would? Nope, Stephen has pieces that sell in the six figures (in pounds); if he wanted to retire the moment he didn’t have to work to make a living anymore, he would have by now. Even his eight month long waiting list for commissioned projects seems like a viable reason to want to slow down the workflow – a person can only handle so much.
Stephen is motivated to continue making his art because he enjoys the satisfaction of “making other people feel happy” and thereby making himself feel proud. His self-proclaimed personal motto sums it all up: “Do the best you can and never stop.”
Thanks to my friends Gaetano and Zoey for sharing this story.
Aspie Joshua Goodfarb got a standing ovation for the speech he made after graduating as valedictorian of Nassau Community College:
“In elementary school, I was first classified as ‘learning disabled’ and later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. My teachers were extremely cautious in their assessment of my obtainable goals,” Goodfarb said, who noted his appreciation for his mother’s support in facing everyday challenges.
“My mother’s continued support and advocacy enabled me to effectively deal with the academic and personal obstacles that presented themselves,” Goodfarb added.
Andrew Croneburger is "a gifted musician, performer and composer, accomplished debater, varsity tennis player, 4.0 grade-point average honor student and class valedictorian" who says that his Asperger's syndrome has helped make all of that possible:
“It’s really something to have exceptional gifts in things. It’s not something (you) should be ashamed of, it’s something to be proud of.”
Recent news stories show people with Asperger's syndrome succeeding by speaking to other kids, working with animals, graduating from college, inventing new things, and giving away free hugs.
Thomas Lichtenbrug speaks to other elementary school students about how optimism helps him cope with bullies:
"The hardest challenge I have with Asperger's is I get bullied a lot," he said. "I've dealt with this by learning to stand up for myself. I get help when I need it."
"My optimism doesn't let me give up," Thomas added. "I've even made friends with someone who used to bully me."
After his speech and a short Powerpoint presentation with factual information, including a list of famous people who have Asperger's, students peppered Thomas with questions. He told them that he was "just born with (Asperger's) There's no way to catch it."
Tori Saylor works as a veterinary assistant and discusses her choice to disclose her autism to her employer:
She said it was a personal choice, and after her experience, knew it was the right one.
"If you don't choose to do that, in my experience, I found that it ultimately hurts you, because your employer doesn't understand you, and you don't understand them, and there's the miscommunication," she said.
Zack Burdyk will pursue a career in journalism after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University:
College has presented a different sort of challenge, requiring more self-reliance and gumption as he has progressed through VCU's School of Mass Communication. Reporting and interviewing are difficult enough without having Asperger's syndrome, but Budryk has done well, said Jeff South, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the School of Mass Communications. South supervises VCU's involvement in Capital News Service, in which students cover and write about the General Assembly for community newspapers in Virginia and other media outlets.
"He's been one of the standout students in the class," South said of Budryk. "I think he has a bright future. Many of his traits, like being a perfectionist, and being very meticulous, are strengths in communication."
And, South said, Budryk brings something else to the job: empathy.
"He covered a lot of issues involving the voice-less, which is what journalists do: give voice to the voice-less," South said. "What Zack deals with on a daily basis probably gives him special insight. I think in some ways his disability allows him to see things that other journalists might overlook."
Shoshank Agarwal plans to use his skills as an inventor to help the environment and the econony:
The 20-year-old has invented a light sensitive alarm to monitor tigers, a vertical-axis windmill that can withstand strong winds and an aeroponic structure to grow plants sans soil.
Now the teenager is going to New Zealand to do a degree in environmental management.
"Once I get my degree and the requisite experience, I plan to start a company and introduce technologies for ecological conservation and provide employment opportunities to others. I hope to do something for the cottage industries too," Shashank told IANS.
Christopher Webster tries to make the world better by giving away free hugs:
At his post, he doesn't flinch when people sometimes get carried away, like the man who gave him a bear hug and swung him back and forth like a pendulum, or the woman who ran and leaped into his arms.
His record for hugs came on St. Patrick's Day, with 81 hugs in 45 minutes. He said he averages 22 hugs each Saturday.
He caught the eye of Karen Springer of Fair Oaks Ranch from across the street. “This is right up your alley,” she told her son, Kyle, 19, as she pushed him in his wheelchair up to Webster. The teen, who has a rare chromosome disorder, rose slowly and was lost in Webster's embrace.
Short video that tells the story of autistic teen Shane and offers some tips for success from Dr. Temple Grandin.