We recently talked with Anita Lesko, an awe-inspiring autism advocate in our community about what she currently has coming up. Her story is phenomenal and you’ll be excited to hear about an event she will be participating in this Fall…
Kerry: Hi Anita! So you have a pretty amazing event happening in September! Can you tell our readers more about it?
Anita: On September 26, 2015 I’m getting married to my soul mate, Abraham Nielsen! We are both Autistic, and we decided to get married at the Love & Autism Conference in San Diego, as part OF the conference! We are on a mission to change the world’s view of Autistic people, and making our wedding public seemed like a great way to embark on our journey. We want to give hope to the millions of people on the autism spectrum, and their families, that love, relationships, and marriage ARE possible!
We defy ALL stereotypes of Autism, and our dear friend Dr. Stephen Shore has labeled us as Autism’s FIRST COUPLE! He is actually going to marry us at the event. Dr. Temple Grandin is giving us a special message! Alex Plank will be Abraham’s Groomsman! Michael Tolleson is painting the back drop for our ceremony! And much more! It’s the first-ever ALL-AUTISTIC wedding! You can read more at http://www.loveandautism.com
When do you first find a passion for being an autism advocate?
I went the first 50 years of my life never knowing why I was so different and never fit in. I struggled with all social interactions, it actually felt painful to try and look someone in the eye, and endless sensory issues. One day a co-worker’s son got diagnosed with Asperger’s. That was the first time I ever heard the word. It was that moment, after I read the information she handed me about Asperger’s, that the pieces of the puzzle of my life fell into place. I soon went for my formal diagnosis. From that point, my whole life took a turn for the better. This made me want to help others on the Autism Spectrum find paths for better, happier lives. This is my true calling in life, to be an autism advocate. Readers can read more at www.autismandromance.com
Who are some people you currently look up too in the autism field?
I personally know Dr. Temple Grandin, and am close friends with Dr. Stephen Shore. They both tirelessly travel the globe to spread their autism advocacy, giving others hope everywhere they go. I also personally know Dr. Tony Attwood, who’s brilliant advice has certainly changed my life and endless others. There are many more I’d love to write about!
What advice would you give for people with autism trying to date, get in a relationship and, maybe one day, fall in love?
First, you need to think positive about yourself. Believe that you CAN fall in love with someone. Second, learn what being in love really means. There’s a huge difference between lust and love. Don’t mistake one for the other. I define being in love as a feeling of peace, comfort, and security when you are with that special person. It’s being able to communicate explicitly with them.
For myself, I know that a successful relationship could only happen with another individual on the spectrum. Have an open mind. Don’t create some image in your mind of who you want to fall in love with. That is so neurotypical! You will know in your heart when you meet that special person with whom you can truly be yourself, feel comfortable with, and they will understand you, and who you can communicate with better than anyone else. That’s THE ONE!
What can we expect from you after the wedding? Any fun events in the nearby future?
I Founded a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, The Flying High with Autism Foundation. My Fiance, myself, and Dr. Stephen Shore (who is my Assistant Director) are currently discussing organizing a huge autism conference somewhere in Europe, possibly Italy, France, or Austria. We will bring together the greatest names in the autism world to make an incredible impact to attendees. Also, Abraham and I will be speaking at conferences everywhere, sharing our epic romance and giving hope to others on the spectrum.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Abraham and I would like to tell others on the autism spectrum to forget you have autism! Don’t focus on that. Instead, focus on whatever you love to do, and just go do it!! We might be different, but we’re not less. Don’t let a diagnosis or a label get you down. You have a lot to offer, and the right to a happy life. Own it!!