Standing at 6’2″ at a young thirty-three years of age, Mike received his AS diagnosis in 2011 after he was enrolled with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. His issues were many and needed to be dealt with. After going through a battery of psychological evaluations, he had to learn how to deal with this new diagnosis.
For the first 6-7 months, he thought he was his condition, blaming the majority of his shortfalls on it. With the support of friends and family, he snapped out of it, and saw himself as the college-educated, well-learned, and outspoken person that he is.
He didn’t start talking much about AS until he returned to school for a second Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While there, he joined and became Vice President of the National Alliance on Mental Health at UWM whose goal is to advocate and support programming for individual with mental illness. He also made the decision to take the StigmaFree pledge whose primary purpose is to see the person for who they are and not for their illness. So far, in that organization’s year-and-a-half time at UWM, they have hosted and helped sponsor four events, and their membership grows by the day.
Prior to going out to UWM, Mike volunteered for the Asperger/Autism Network (formerly Asperger’s Association of New England) doing data entry where he maintained the membership database for a few hours each week. During that time, he attended Asperger support groups for both adults and an “all age” demographic. He also attended some workshops and provided AV support for one of their conferences.
While ASA had gone untouched (both the site and the Facebook community), he recently decided to reactivate it having been inspired by several peer support groups meetings hosted by NAMI at UWM. He feels that despite the wealth of resources existing about AS, he still feels that people don’t understand the condition.