This guest Q&A is with Dr. Lamar Hardwick who is a husband, father of three, and a pastor. After years of struggling with social anxiety, sensory processing, and other related issues, Lamar was diagnosed with autism in 2014 at age 36. Today he uses his platform as a community leader to be an autism advocate helping to create awareness, encourage acceptance, and mentor young advocates.

Hi Lamar! Can you tell us a bit about why you wanted to become an autism advocate?

12790846_10208756564094146_3833756321043286969_n-1I was diagnosed with autism in 2014 at age 36. Growing up I always had some challenges socially, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned about my autism. After I was diagnosed, I wanted to help others who may have grown up with a similar story as mine. I wanted my story to bring hope to others in the autism community.

How did you come up with the title for your blog in “Autism Pastor?”

About a year ago I wrote a blog about the role of fear and my faith in living with autism. Several people in the autism community read that blog and because I am a pastor, they began referring to me as “The Autism Pastor”, so I changed the name of my blog to reflect their sentiments.

What has been one of your favorite blogs you’ve written?

In addition, what was one blog post you read from another writer that has stood out to you? My favorite blog that I’ve written was titled When people say ‘You look tired’. It became a really popular blog in the autism community because I believe it resonated with an unspoken reality that life with autism can be exhausting at times. A blog from another writer that stood out to me was a pieced written by Lori Sealy called My answer to the Question ‘What does Autism Feel Like. I felt is was a very creative way to describe life with autism.

You’ve inspired countless in your community. What would be one piece of advice you’d give to others who are hoping to achieve the same amount of success that you have had?

11143076_10206691718074286_7862251387849496181_n (1)I think becoming comfortable with who you are is the key to succeeding. When you can truly learn to be comfortable with who you are you can gain the confidence to overcome any challenge.

What’s next for you? We heard you are working on a new book?

Yes. I’ve written a new book called I am Strong, which is takes readers on a journey of me growing up undiagnosed with autism until I was 36 years old and the role that my faith and family has played in my past and future success. My hope is to have it published this year because I believe it will be a story that everyone can be inspired by.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Yes. Right now we are developing a mentoring program for teens and young adults on the spectrum that will use some tips and practices from my book to help prepare them for success in the world. Check out my website and my Facebook page Autism Pastor for more details and developments.

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-Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.- (2)