Lee Passehl was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was diagnosed with autism at age three. Two months ago Lee achieved a significant milestone in his life – he celebrated his 30th birthday. With Autism Awareness Month around the corner, Lee looks back at his life and realizes how he has coped with several obstacles in his life, being autistic, and how he has managed to overcome all of them, and make it to this very day.
It all started in October 1998, when his mother introduced him to a TV show on autism. The story in the show showed a small boy with behavioral pattern similar to him, like spinning in circles and struggling to make eye contact. Lee immediately related the patterns similar to him. After the show, Lee went and asked his mother, if he has autism. That’s when his mother shared the news with him, although she had known it a decade ago. Lee knew he was different from other children, but this news hit him like a ton of bricks. It was much scarier than anticipated.
Before his mother could share this news with him, Lee thought of himself as a much smarter kid than his friends. He excelled at racing radio controlled cars and had laser focus attention skill. Now, that he knows that he has this condition called ‘autism’ he felt much less normal than other kids.
Lee’s Adolescence did not pass by without Its Fair Share of Autism Tantrums
As Lee got into adolescence, his autism tantrums grew and posed significant challenges for him to lead his day to day life, including his academics. With an instructional aide and considerable support for his tantrums, Lee’s life improved until graduation. After graduation, Lee wanted to try a technical school without additional support. This was a little challenging for Lee because he was used to an instructional aid for most of his academic life, but now he had to learn things on his own. By this time, Lee’s friends were able to take up more complex educational lines, which made Lee feel broken and less normal.
It was in January 2008 that Lee discovered an autism community message board, wrongplanet.net, which entirely changed his life. The forum spoke about other people with autism and how they coped up with life. It shared many real life stories from around the world, and it was with the help of this forum that Lee learned to realize and accept his condition.
When Lee was young, he admits that he often wished he never had autism. But now, after he has accepted his condition, his perspective about life has changed. Now the only questions that pop up in his mind are, what would the world be if there was no autism? If Lee didn’t have autism, would he be any different?
In the words of Lee,
“Autism is not a burden or some super-secret weapon. It’s simply part of one’s identity.”
It took Lee 17 years to accept his condition, but once he realized it, life became really easy and simple for him. Lee’s message for those having autism is,
“one day, all people with autism will gain full acceptance in our society and not have to feel alone in this world.” – Lee Passehl
For more interesting articles on autism, visit autismhub.co.uk