HONORED AT WORK

I was recently nominated as an honoree through my job at Pathfinders for Autism. We had a reception for our honorees and as the kickoff of a campaign at our headquarters in Hunt Valley. This was a big deal. Some of the people in attendance were PFA founders BJ Surhoff and his wife Polly, Deputy Janelle Myers whose son is on the Spectrum, Mary Beth Marsden, and world-renowned Autism Specialist Dr. Rebecca Landa. It was great seeing Dr. Landa again! She is actually the reason I got started in the Autism advocacy business in the first place. It was awesome reconnecting with her! The campaign I mentioned is called 20 for 20. 20 for 20 is in honor of Pathfinders’ 20th anniversary. I feel incredibly lucky, fortunate, blessed, honored, and humbled, among other things, to be counted as a Pathfinders employee! Being nominated as an honoree is probably more than I deserve and I do not take my honoree status lightly. I really have found my calling through my line of work at PFA. My bosses are some of the nicest people I have ever met! Plus my “big boss” is a former Baltimore Oriole, so that’s pretty cool! I feel I can act “natural” at work. What I mean by that is, I don’t have to put on a front or a facade at work. Since the company is called Pathfinders for Autism I can let my Autism shine through. Not only that, but take front and center. A lot of times, I feel I have to almost suppress my Autism and its symptoms and manifestations. Not at work. At work, I can fully embrace, endorse, and almost flaunt my Autism. Despite all the shit my Autism has caused me—all the bullying; all the arguments; all the awkwardness and not feeling like I belong or fit in—I finally found a place I feel I do fit in and belong. I feel like I have a second family with Pathfinders. To be counted as a member and employee of such a great company really is beyond my wildest dreams! And to be recognized and honored by them is more than I could ever ask for! I have worked for Pathfinders for Autism since December 2015 and there has never been a dull moment! Every training, event, and interaction I have ever had with my boss, Trish, and whoever we train is special and unique to me. For me, this isn’t just “a job”. It’s not work, even though technically it is. I don’t feel like that. To me, there is no such thing as “just another day at work”. I feel I have struck gold and hit the jackpot with my job. My work is my life and my passion. And I will continue to strive to live up to the reputation and standards PFA holds me to for a long time to come. I will continue to tell my story and share my experience with anyone and everyone willing to listen. So to Pathfinders for Autism and all involved: THANK YOU! It has been one Hell of a journey and something tells me it’s only just beginning! Thanks for reading!

-Tom

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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