I don’t wanna toot my own horn here, but I am kind of well-known in the Baltimore area as a sort of “authority” on Autism. I am not an expert. I think people assume because I have Autism, I know everything there is to know about it. Believe me…nothing could be further from the truth. I know how Autism impacts me and only me. Please do not look up to me for answers about Autism involving others. Frankly, I don’t know how it impacts other people. Hell, I don’t even fully comprehend how it impacts me. I am still trying to figure it out, even though I have lived with my diagnosis for 21 years now. I feel there are no “real” experts on Autism. Yes, you can study it and come to any conclusions you want about what causes Autism or even study “cures” (even though we know damn well there’s not one) but it does not make you an expert. To me, less is more. What I mean by that is, the less you pretend to know about Autism or be an expert on it, the more I respect you. My expertise on this subject can only go so far, then at some point, I have to say “I have no idea!”. People ask me stuff about Autism and how it might affect others all the time. If you are going to ask any questions about how Autism impacts people, make it personal. Ask about how it impacts me. I hate being put on the spot about Autism, even though it is my job. My experiences are my own and nobody else’s. Again, not to sound egotistical, but if you Google “Tom Whalen Autism” the first page is all about me. And while that is flattering and an honor, it does put some strain and pressure on me. Like, “Oh shit. Now people are going to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns that I can’t answer.” What if I give people the wrong answer? The last thing I wanna do is give people false hope or information. People have always looked to me for answers and, for the most part, I have given good advice…or at least tried to. So I do not know all there is to know about Autism and I doubt I ever will. People, use Google or something. I am sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people out there who are asking the same thing. I’m not God. I don’t have all the answers. If I did, then I would be travelling spreading the Word of Tom. I am still here in my hometown, trying to make a living. I have already made a name for myself, but as Tom Petty said, “The waiting is the hardest part”. I want to expand, but am still waiting for that call. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go it alone, or at least with Allie. But in closing, do not assume one person knows all there is to know about Autism. That’s just a misconception. I am with people who impacted very differently than I am day in and day out. While it may sound mean, sometimes I wonder “What do they have that makes them different?” I know it sounds weird, but to me, that is a legitimate thought. So as usual, I wanna hear from you guys. Let me know what you think and thanks for reading!

Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend

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