What age were you diagnosed with autism and what is your current age?
TJ was diagnosed around 22 months of age. He was not speaking and was checked for a hearing issue. He was then referred to a developmental pediatrician who made the diagnosis.
Where are you located in Canada?
Enfield, Nova Scotia
What does it mean to you to be autistic?
This is hard for me to answer for TJ. I would hope that he would say he sees the world differently than everybody else but he also sees the kindness of those people who have been involved in his life. He has had some amazing help at school and also a wonderful autism summer camp. People don’t understand when he screetches or yells and then they look at him weird. People stare all the time which must be hard for him.
What are your autism strengths?
TJ’s autism strengths would be his sense of humor. He can be hilarious at times time. Sometimes you just have to listen to his “chatter” to catch what he’s saying. He can answer some questions with funny responses as well. TJ actually loves physical contact which as a mom I am so happy about. It would break my heart to not be able to hug him.
What are some things that are hard for you?
Big crowds, loud noises, flashing lights.
What role has your family played in your autism journey?
I would hope TJ would say that his family has always advocated for him. My family has always been my stability. Even when things were rough they did their best to handle the situations as they came, one at a time.
What advice would you give to a person, recently diagnosed with autism, wondering what the future holds for them? What are your goals and hopes for the future?
Try to be open to change. Try to take as many opportunities that are offered to you that you can. Find your special interest and use it to help you maneuver the world.
What five words best describe you?
Lovable. Comedienne. Jokester. Artist.
Why are you interested in becoming an Autism Speaks Canada Ambassador?
I think it is important for people to see the differences in people with autism. There is a saying “If you’ve seen one autistic person, you’ve seen one autistic person.” It is SO true.