Cover Image - Success: An Autism Self-Advocate’s Viewpoint

Success: An Autism Self-Advocate’s Viewpoint

By Aaron Bouma


What Do People View As Success?

What do most people view as success in life? Is it money, fancy cars, big house, lots of land? Or is success flawed in how society views it? What if how society views success is only 5% of what success can actually mean?

Society’s Narrow Viewpoint

Society has always had a narrow mindset on how success is viewed.

Money, degrees, and what’s on paper has been what is viewed as success in most modern aspects and even since the beginning of time. As society and technology have evolved, human aspirations and skill sets continue to build by vast means.

Certainly to this day, this very moment, success is and certainly has been a very stigmatized aspect of life. That is certainly true for autistic peoples and other persons with disabilities. Some of our skills sets are not valued at a high amount in today’s world as they should be. This includes day to day interaction with people in the workplace and schools.

Social Success

For me, variants of social aspects, such as being able to network, talk with, and meet people, are fields of success that spread and lead to different types of opportunities and growth for mental health in other fields. Individual success with mental health and creativity has always been overlooked by many in the neurotypical world.

A question I ask is, “Why”? Is it because we are supposed to be seen in a certain light that is meant to be struggling? In these lenses, it is ableism at the fullest.

Autistic Success and Overcoming Hardships

Our ‘autistic’ success is covered with having to work five times as hard to be recognized as “neurotypical people”. As much as we plead, we still have trouble getting our struggles across from the credit that we deserve. Sometimes, it goes more to a parent than to an autistic individual.

To overcome barriers and hardships from one point to another, it’s SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE INNER STRENGTH so YOU can push forward with what YOU love! I SHARE PAIN AND JOY. I’ve been there. Cried, laughed, shouted, sighed, and smiled. But the success from when you follow your dreams builds inner confidence and inner mental health strength.

Just as well, failures harden your outer skin. THAT outer skin comes from ignorance, ableism, nepotism, or even multiple forms of abuse, but what YOU NEED TO REMEMBER, Is that YOU MADE IT POSSIBLE, YOU GOT YOURSELF THERE WITH YOUR SKILLS, YOUR BELIEF IN YOURSELF, YOUR KNOWLEDGE, AND YOUR CONFIDENCE.

One aspect cannot be beaten out: the human spirit. If you’re patient and persistent like me, doors will open. With age and building of knowledge, we evolve. For some, yes: it is harder than with others.

A Great Challenge and a Great Success

I write this tonight as the world deals with a great challenge; a great uncertainty; a temporary new normal. SUCCESS can seem far away. For many autistic persons and others with disabilities, much is on hold from services to daily activities we love and devote ourselves to.

Mental health challenges rise their ugly clouds, but who says we have to stop? Who says we cannot be creative or adapt? Again, for some, it’s harder than it is for others. CREATIVITY IS AN AUTISTIC GENE. This is a time we must HELP ONE ANOTHER; if not face to face, then ONLINE. When we rise out of the COVID-19 pandemic, WE WILL ALL SHARE THIS ONE BIG SUCCESS.

Author Image

Aaron Bouma is a proud man with autism, and an autism advocate with a passion. He is the owner of Bouma Woodworks, a woodworking business that builds military models and furniture. All of his military model guns, tanks as well as others are built from his mind, just using pictures, cutting piece by piece. Aaron also enjoys giving war history presentations at local schools, and speaking and advocating for people on the autism spectrum, practicing gymnastics and multiple types of martial arts. He also serve on a number of committees and boards in his local community.