North and South America
Brian Patrick, age 43 is skating accross the USA. “I’m doing this on behalf of Autism Speaks,” Patrick said. “Members of my own family are on the autistic spectrum.
Rollerblade® is proud to sponsor Brian on this amazing journey!
Here is his story:
In my life I have had a lot of titles, but a year ago I officially earned a title that I am most proud of besides being called ‘Da.’
My name is Brian Patrick and I am Autistic. I am on the Autistic Spectrum with Asperger’s. I am part of this elite group and the most wonderful community known to mankind.
When I look back over the course of my life and I look at the mistakes I made and some of the erratic behavior – Asperger’s explains a lot, but let there be no misunderstandings – it does not excuse it.
I knew for the past 10 years that ‘something wasn’t right.’ Everyone knew in a way. It was the pink elephant in the room wearing a dress and drinking a beer. All we did was keep feeding the elephant beer.
My life was based on allowing Asperger’s to manipulate me and now – I manipulate Asperger’s. No one would ever recognize I have Asperger’s until you watch the mannerisms; poor / no eye contact and my sensory issues.
How did I know I was on the Autistic Spectrum? It was because of an incredible young man named Riley. Riley, like me, has Asperger’s. Having said that, like father like son.
NOTE: Riley gave me permission to discuss his Asperger’s.
Riley's mother and I (Christine) recognized 'something wasn't right' with Riley. Poor communication skills, the inability to talk, no eye contact, overwhelming sensory issues an no social interaction. When we recognized this, the gloves came off and we went to work on him. Christine is a nurse and has a very diverse background in the medical field including being the head nurse to a neurologist. We immediately got Riley enrolled into programs to address all his needs to help him move forward and prepare him for kindergarten. After more than two very intense years with Riley, we got him enrolled into public school. Just because he was enrolled in a public school doesn't mean everything was better and his Asperger's went away. There was still a lot of work with him and we all continued to work with him. Riley was five years old and I took him to his program where in all that time, I never watched. Riley was self-conscious with me watching, so I just sat in the waiting room. One day, I decided to sneak in and watch to see how he was doing and what exactly are his teachers doing with him. As I watched for no more than 90 seconds, my eyes watered up; I wasn't just watching Riley, I was watching myself. In that very moment, I thought about my life and the difficulties that I had and realized that I was identical to Riley. It was the first time in my life I realized I may potentially be Autistic. As the years went by, I never truly addressed my Autistic issues. There were things I did begin to change, but I never fully addressed my own needs. Finally, two years ago I was with a friend and I was explaining something to her and she looked at me and said, "Ummm-your Asperger's is showing." I never told her, never shared that with her, but it was pretty obvious. I got tested two weeks later and I was told something I knew my whole life; I have Asperger's. It wasn't a shock or a surprise. However, I begun this process of addressing some of my own issues that have been an anchor in my life. The first resource - the first tool I reached out to was AutismSpeaks.org. Everything from doctor's, testing, education, authors and diets - which is the reason I became a vegetarian (which changed recently due to long distance skating).
Over the past six months I thought about my experiences with Autism and and realized there is a potential that I can help others that are part of the world of Autism. The thing is what can one man do? What can I do to make a difference? So we came up with this crazy idea of me putting wheels on my feet and skating across the country raising Autism Awareness. Richard Pipp, my friend and Project Manager for what became entitled The Journey made one point that became a hard truth: No one would care what I was doing or why I was doing it until I went a thousand miles. Know what? He was right. By the time I got into TN, people were emailing us. People were stopping me on the side of the road to talk to me. I was then talking to teachers, administrators and mostly parents. A family from Missouri contacted me and brought me to their local High School to speak of my experiences. This wonderful family and I will probably remain life long friends. In a sense, it became clear that it was no longer about skating; it was about how can I help a community that I have been a part of my whole life. I realized I can make a difference. I realized my experiences good, bad and indifferent can impact a families life. I realized it isn't always about talking; it is about listening. It is listening to these families that are part of the Autistic Community and how it has changed their lives and the dynamics that come with it. I document everything and in the very near future I will sit and talk to the folks at Autism Speaks and share that with them.
My name is Brian Patrick and I am Autistic. These are words I never thought would ever come out of my mouth. However, I could not be any more proud of anything in my life other than being Autistic.
There are many life altering lessons learned in this Journey and I made so many friends along the way through the South that I am left speechless and overwhelmed.
The greatest lesson I learned is this:
The community in which we live in is more important than any one individual that lives there.
Having stated that, there becomes a question; what have you - what have I done for our community today?
Today, along with all my friends that I made along the way are helping members of the Autistic Community.
With Love and Respect,
Brian is skating on Tempest 110's on his trip: http://www.rollerblade.com/usa/products/tempest-110/?cat=men
Check out more info on Brian here: http://www.thenewsstar.com/article/20121208/NEWS01/121208007/Skater-crosses-country-autism?nclick_check=1
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