On Thursday June 5 I was one of the keynote speakers at the Jonathon Howard Run the Dream event in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Mr. Howard is doing a remarkable thing; taking most of a year of his life to run across Canada for autism. The musical entertainment was excellent including Cathy Hutch and BJ McKelvie performing "I'm In Here".
The highlight of the night for me though was a talk given by Bruno Hache, (photo above), a young man with Asperger's, and an outstanding, positive, attitude, who is very good at public speaking, has a great sense of humor and was very informative and entertaining. I asked Bruno if he would consider sending me some information about himself to post on this blog site and he has kindly obliged.
Bruno in his own words:
Bruno in his own words:
* I vaguely remember in my K-4 years being diagnosed as extremely gifted, and having absolutely no motor skills. PE and music class were both nightmares. Academically, I would excel in English, French and the Sciences, and fail miserably at Math and anything numbers-related. I had very few friends, spent most of my recess alone or with the "geek" crowd talking video games, the space program, or anything that wasn't typical of an 8 year old.
* High School:
* This period of life, for any adolescent is supposed to be a period of intense growth and development. I didn't. 9th grade was a living nightmare. I was neglected as a "geek", a "nerd" and constantly teased and bullied by my classmates. I entered depression. Many visits to the school psychologist, guidance counselors, Mental Health workers led to depression. Further studies by a psychiatrist led to "Asperger Syndrome". The next two years of high school, for me was trying to find out what exactly Asperger's is, and trying to learn what I could do, because my psychiatrist, at the time, was not exactly knowledgeable of the fact. The school psychologist had absolutely NO idea how to pursue with an adolescent with AS.
I remember spending nights "Googling" for strategies on coping with Asperger's, and also trying to explain in layman's terms to my parents what being an Aspie is.
*I was forced, in 2001, to quit High School due to depressive moments. The next few weeks after, I decided to pursue my talents. I managed to take a Computer Technician course at a private college (Academy of Learning) and eventually graduated from this program in December, 2001. I realized that having no High School diploma would get me nowhere. I subsequently pursued my GED, obtained it in May of 2002. I was 17 years old at the time, and trying to enter the adult working world was a bit hard. I got hired by Canadian Tire, in Bathurst, as an Auto Parts Clerk (my second passion) and then worked there for a few years.
Deep in my heart, since I left high school, I have always wanted to work with special needs children. I have known that there was very little support given in my territory at the time (Bathurst, NB). I took the leap in the spring of 2003 to apply at the University of New Brunswick to enter their Bachelor of Arts/ Elementary Education program. I was accepted! Fall came, and I had given the opportunity to meet an amazing lady called Patricia Kirby, who works at the Student Accessibility Center. She had just completed studies on Asperger's Syndrome. She helped me greatly discover who I am, and what I want to do through my first two years. She managed to explain to my parents -and also clarify to them what AS is. I still can't thank her enough to this day!
*Yesterday, Today and The Future
*I was forced, due to financial and health reasons to leave UNB and pursue full-time employment. Fast-forward to the spring of 2007. I was still employed in the retail sector, and officially ready to move forward. I enrolled at the CompuCollege School of Business in Moncton. I have recently graduated with an 85% and am working full-time at Canadian Tire as a retail floor manager! I have learned, with support from Ms. Kirby, and various sources, how to cope with AS, and getting to know my strengths and weaknesses. I've learned that if you exploit your talents, you will succeed.
I am currently an autism advocate, a "big brother" to two Asperger pre-teens in the Bathurst, NB area. I am helping them transition from middle school to high school, and doing my best to improve their social life. I am also a volunteer with Autism Consultants NB as an Asperger Spokesperson.
Much of my spare time is spent on autism advocacy, research, and volunteering to the cause. I do, however, spend quality time with friends, family and my own social life.
The future: Given my past experience with AS in the school systems, and with my skills - how I've coped with it.. I am determined to pursue the Autism Intervention Worker Program at UNB while working full-time, and eventually open a private practice, where I will have the opportunity to travel to remote areas in New Brunswick to help with autistic children. Many parents cannot afford to drive to major centers and this is where I will come handy as I plan to travel to their locale.
Without support from my family, friends and co-workers, I would not be where I currently am today. I will forever be thankful for this. To anyone with a child who has Asperger Syndrome: Work on his or her talents first and foremost. Develop their social skills based on them. That's how I got where I am now.