Where Time will Lead Me

When I was a child, I wanted to be a movie star.  To go after that dream, I dis some funny videos with my aunt in Ohio.  When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an actor.  So I decided to take some acting classes at Stage Right Performing Arts.  When I was in college, I wanted to be a Broadway stage actor and win a Tony, and I took some challenging courses such as theatre history and production courses that included working on the sets.

But where is that really taking me?

Now I’m an adult and feeling a bit scared of the painful reality of school debts, the amount of taxes I have to pay from the money I earned, and the fact that I am still undergoing some of the rejections of my life.

Where does that all lead?

Well, the truth is failure is not where it leads me.  There are many failures to come, but failure does not lead me to failure.  The reason why is because that there are going to be a lot of rejections coming my way.  It is painful, yes, but it is also something I can use to motivate me.  Whenever I feel rejected by a theatre or a director, my family, my significant other, or even I would tell myself that each rejection is God’s way of saying that this is not the right place.

In other words, God has better plans for me.  And He most certainly did!  Why?  Because even though there is some ugliness in my life (such as my current job), I really search for the beauty of it all.  I look even deeper to where I really want to be.  When I get a rejection, I get the feeling I did something wrong, or that there’s something wrong with me.  It turns out that there is nothing wrong with me, but that maybe there is something more for me than just this amateur actor.

While attending college, one of my big dreams was to become a Tony-winning actor.  However, during my junior year of college, I rediscovered that I was a good playwright, and even writing in general.  I started seeing myself in a new light that I would’ve never expected had I not gone to college.

Since then, I have been writing blogs.  I started writing my own novels and short stories.  I wrote two articles for Autism Speaks, one of them being a huge success and has become popular on the Autism Speaks Facebook page to this day.  I wrote a play on bully prevention, which will make it’s debut production in Ohio.

Now, there is something more in the future.  I don’t want to reveal it as of yet due to my uncertainty of where it will lead me in the future.  Let’s just say it might have something to do with writing plays.

I still love acting.  I realized just recently how much I missed acting and how much more I want to be involved, but I also accept that I have many gifts.  I was born to become a writer, a public speaker, a playwright, an actor, a singer, and a loving friend.  There are probably more things about myself that I myself don’t really know about but I will find out more just by following my dreams.

When you follow your dreams, you think you already got it all planned out and you focus only on that particular dream.  But then reality kicks in and you find out that it’s really hard.

Take my advice.  When I dreamt of being an actor, I never knew this dream would lead me to something else.  When I was rejected many times for a part in a play, I felt I had no talent as an actor.  But then, thank GOD I was a theatre performance major because I wouldn’t have taken a scriptwriting course in my junior year of college.  After that, I realized I was a really good playwright, and then I started opening up about my autism.

Opening up about my autism lead me to write and publish a successful article on Autism Speaks about growing up on the autism spectrum.  That in turn lead me to speak publicly about autism awareness and bully prevention in schools and events.  The article and my public speaking helped me gain some communicative skills and experience to talk to anyone that needs my advice.

Maybe someday all of this would lead me to acting, but only time will tell. Right now, I want to focus on my writing, my advocating, my teaching, and my success.  I am already in the process of a theatre career, and that alone will probably lead to my dream as an actor.  But because of that, I have other dreams.

Right now, reality doesn’t really scare me, because I have all these gifts that help me better understand life.  My advice to you is that if you have a dream or if you never thought of a dream, start off with doing the things you are talented with.  Either you know how to paint, invent machines, write reviews, or even play sports; if you are really good at these hobbies, just don’t stop doing it.  Show it all off.

If you’ve seen Snoopy the Musical, there is a song called Don’t be Anything Less than Everything you can Be.  The musical is fictional, but the song is true.  Don’t be the moo if you can’t be the cow, or don’t be a tail if you can’t be the dog.  If you can write, sing, act, or play sports, just do it!  Because if you’re just working as a dishwasher or a waiter at a restaurant, then you should know your are more than just that.

We’re All Different, but That’s what we all have in Common

The day after Donald Trump was elected president, I drove to the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to meet documentary filmmaker Dan Habib.  Although the real reason for me being there was to speak to an audience about my experience growing up with a learning disability, Dan and I shared a conversation to discuss our goals.

Dan is a father of two sons.  His youngest son Samuel has cerebral palsy.  Samuel’s disability is detailed in Dan’s documentary, Including Samuel, focusing more on his fun-loving personality rather than just having cerebral palsy in general, hoping that people who watch it would accept Samuel as a person rather than describing him as the “boy in a wheelchair.”  Fortunately though, his classmates are very fond of him, and he enjoys a close relationship with his older brother Isiah.  The film also focuses on accepting other students, such as a child with autism and Keith Jones, a talented hip-hop artist and advocate with a disability.

Today, Samuel is still in a wheelchair, but his family still fights to this day to make sure he is accepted by his peers.  According to Dan, he does very well in school, and is described as a “tech wiz.”.  Like his father, he is interested in making documentaries (he made an interesting, short documentary of The Beetles for a school project).  Furthermore, he has hopes and dreams to be an independent just like any other person, with the help of his supportive family and friends.

Before the lunch break was over, I asked Dan if Samuel was his inspiration for making documentary films focusing on people with disabilities, to which he answered yes.  Dan’s later detailed that his lifelong goal of having Samuel included to a school to socialize with people with and without disabilities lead to an advocacy on doing the same for other people with disabilities.  That includes more documentaries such as Who Cares About Kelsey, Restraint and Seclusion, and his upcoming film Intelligent Lives, which will be narrated and hosted by Oscar-winning actor, Chris Cooper.

You may know Chris Cooper for his role as the antagonistic businessman in The Muppets, or his Oscar-winning role as John Laroche in the film Adaptation.  What you may have not known, however, was his role as “dad” to his son Jesse, who had cerebral palsy.  Like Dan’s son Samuel, Jesse communicated through a computer and spent most of his life on a wheelchair.  In spite of doctors telling Jesse’s parents he would never succeed, Jesse became a straight A student, though he was forced to perform an I.Q. test that shared “absurd, antiquated questions,” according to Cooper, such as if he “dusts a dresser.”  Jesse died of epilepsy in January 2005.  He was only seventeen years old.

Chris Cooper and Dan developed a friendship during the process of making the movie, most likely for relating to the fact that both of their sons grew up with cerebral palsy; both shared similar goals for their sons to be sent to general classrooms and schools, and advocate to help others with disabilities be accepted by their peers.  If there was an Oscar for the role of “dad,” both Chris and Dan deserve one.

Just like Including Samuel, the documentary focuses on the acceptance of students with disabilities, focusing on three different individuals.  These students describe their experience going to general classes in spite of their “low I.Q.’s.”

Throughout the presentation, Dan was able to expose these individuals in a more positive light.  He was able to convince me even more (not that I haven’t for the past couple of years) that individuals should not be primarily focused for their disabilities, but from their personalities and their gifts.  That they need to be embraced as a welcoming member to society.  Just like Samuel, many of them are intelligent and have an enthusiastic sense of humor, something many people don’t focus on.  Their intelligence should not be judged or tested just by how “high” or “low” their I.Q numbers are, or by how much support they need.

Some need wheelchairs to help them move.  Some need earphones or headphones and to listen to an audiobook to help them read better (that is called auditory learning).  Some need to wear hearing aids so they can hear things better.  Some need to communicate with their hands because they couldn’t hear.  Some need to read brail (series of little bumps) because they can’t see.

Maybe you can learn something from them.  Because that’s how smart they are.  We are not here on this planet to be set apart, but to work together as a society, to stand together.  We’re all different, but that’s what we all have in common.

If you’ve seen the movie High School Musical, then even you should know we’re all in this together!

Joshua Dushack

Many Will Love You, Others Will Hate You

More than two thousand years ago, there came a man.  Loved by many, but at the same time, hated.  He preached love and traveled to heal many illnesses.  He was a philosopher, rabbi, teacher, and public speaker.  Unfortunately, in spite of his good deeds, he was executed by politicians in fear of their financial power.

Usually I try my hardest to keep religion out of my blogs but I just can’t seem to get this out of my mind.  I have a habit of trying to make every person I meet feel the joy and happiness of meeting me, because I do not like anger or judgement.  I feel like every time someone says something they don’t like about me (or just admits they flat out hate me), I feel a hand squeezing my heart.

It’s not that I care more about my own feelings than others, but that I just don’t like the pain I feel whenever it gets to me.  Emotional pain to me feels so overwhelming that I could barely move where I sit or lay, and it lasts so long that each minute feels like a second.  That means time just flies so fast I barely notice.

I don’t want to use it as an excuse, but it probably has something to do with me having autism.  I am also aware that it is also one of the symptoms of autism.  One of the reasons was because we expect ourselves to be perfect, and we try our best not to have flaws just because we don’t want to attract any negative emotions.  It overwhelms us and makes us feel that we are hated.  Or at least, that’s how I feel even though my loved ones would always remind me that just because they get mad at me or get irritated with me doesn’t mean they love me less.

When someone sees me as a kind of bad or weird person, I try my best to look at the things about me that are “bad” or “weird,” and change that to being “good” or “normal.”  But that still doesn’t work on affecting just anyone.  I kept feeling like something was even more wrong with me.  That was until sometime early this year or late last year.  There was nothing wrong with me, there is just something wrong with the person that doesn’t like me.

I’ve been told many times before (and probably my whole life) that not everybody is going to like me.  I learned that mostly from my dad from the time I began figuring it out.  Not everyone is going to like my handsome face; my brown hair, my brown eyes, or even how tall I am.  There are even those who would probably criticize my “mediocre” writing.  They would probably even think I’m only advocating and writing about autism and bullying for money.  That is common for those who probably hate me.

That’s why I used Jesus as an example for what society is like today.  Jesus healed many people, and traveled many places to feed the hungry and preach the word of God.  He even shared his love to those who acted immorally.  He never harmed, judged, or stole from any living soul, but that didn’t stop anyone from hating him.  He was just an innocent man loved by most, but hated by many, leading to his painful execution.

I know there are those who don’t believe in Jesus’ existence, and I want those who don’t to know that I don’t want to make you believe in him.  I am not here to change your minds.  I just want to let you know that I am just giving out a message here.  The more I think of Jesus dying on the cross, the more I understand that not everybody is going to like me no matter how hard I try.  You can’t do that either, it is impossible.

As you can see, even Jesus couldn’t make the whole world love him, or even believe in him.  Although he was able to make everyone know his name.

For instance, It’s like when I try to get my play published.  Back in Ohio I get advice from Wendy S. Duke, who is the co-founder of Center for Applied Drama and Autism.  I ask her how I’m going to find a publisher that wouldn’t send me a rejection letter.  Some will probably say my play sucks.  However, not only does she remind me that I’m probably going to get a lot of rejections, but that I just have to find the right publisher.

Does that sound understandable?

So find the people that like you for who you are.  That includes your soul mate, best friends, confidants, and even a real family that accepts you for being you.  I accept anyone in my life who is different, as long as nobody gets hurt in the process.  People may lie about you and say that you are not the person you are expected to be, but that’s why you have those that love you and know you best to defend you.

But first, love yourself.  What others say about you should not reflect on what you say about yourself.  Only you can love yourself more than any other person.


Bullies are Different: Does That Mean They Should Bully Themselves?

Bullying is a serious issue.  October – as I discovered almost recently – is Bullying Awareness Month.  I haven’t written enough blogs that relate to bullying because I was so focused on other subjects.  Now, I’m focused on this because this is very important to talk about.  Most of you might not want to read this because either you were bullied, or you were the bully.  

Some of whom that were bullied end up like a bully themselves because they don’t want to be a target any longer.  Some become a bully to amuse themselves, while for others, it’s a cry for help.

There is nothing funny whatsoever about being bullied.  It can either be physical, or emotional.  The emotional part is the worst of it for most, and for me included.  Many are bullied because of their sexual orientation, physical or behavioral problems, or even for the way they look.  In other words, people are bullied just for being “different.”

It also makes them an easier target since the targeted victims come across as “weak” by most of their peers.  I don’t think bullies are aware of (or even care) how scared and depressed their victims feel; or how scared the victims’ parents become.

As a parent, you want to help your child and protect them, but they know it’s almost impossible because they can’t be at school with them all the time.  Some parents would even take their children out of school because the bullying just gets worse and worse.  Some of their children end up committing suicide.  There is blaming going on, either at the victim or the bully; the bullies’ parents or even the victims’ parents for not “protecting them enough.”

Fortunately, there is a positive way to prevent bullying even further.

I know this because I’m an artistic person.  Which reminds me; art is a way to help students lift their spirits in their schools.  I think there should be art programs that includes painting or theatre, that way they can express themselves freely without any fear.  I also believe that would help inspire them to stand up for themselves and to not be afraid of who they are, or to be afraid of getting hurt.

My way of helping schools prevent bullying is by showing them what affect is has on people.  My play shows the root of bullying through both the victim and the bully, portraying the bully as a person suffering from his own demons, which the main characters discover as the play progresses.  I’m hoping it shows schools what they should and should’t do in order to keep their school safe.

Another positive way is for schools to allow the parents of both the victim and the bully to work together.  Nobody on this planet is meant to blame each other when something goes wrong.  Nobody can predict what goes on with their children, or even prevent them completely from being capable of harm.  It’s about bringing people together as a society; a community, instead of keeping them apart.  Think of it that way.

One other way to keep it positive is to confront the bully.  It has to be any adult who has some level of authority over them, whether it is a teacher, principal, or guidance counselor.  Discipline is not enough to prevent the situation.  Because most of the time, the bully is suffering as well.  The bully might not give you some answers instantly, but that’s why you have to let him/her understand that they can be trusted and that his/her confidence is safe.

Victims have to be aware that it’s okay to be different.  Bullies have to be aware that not some, but everyone is different.  That means the bullies are “different” too.  So does that mean they should bully themselves?


That means they shouldn’t bully at all.  

If I Forget I’m Getting Paid, That Means I Love my Job!

Every time I get to work as a dining aide in a nursing home, I just keep wondering how much money I’m going to earn.  I know that sounds harsh, but working as a dining aide is a lot of work.  Eight hours a day feels like a lifetime where I work.

When I work on something that I love doing, it’s like my pay stub is the last thing on my mind.  During the first few hours, I think about what I’m going to do.  Then, I just do it.  After that, I just feel satisfied with the end results without the effort.  Then after I receive my check/stub, I think to myself, “Oh yeah, I forgot I was getting paid!”  I love that feeling.

Do you ever get that feeling when you are at work?

I get that feeling when I was performing a show, such as the Nikesha Moore concert.  I get that feeling when I discover that my play is being produced or read.  I get that feeling whenever I work with kids on the autism spectrum.  However, I never get that feeling when I’m working as a dining aide at the nursing home.

The reason why is because I only work at the nursing home to make money.  That may sound harsh but it’s true.  I don’t hate my job but it is endlessly stressful and there is a lot of tension going on in the kitchen.  Sometimes you do have to work at the jobs you don’t entirely love in order to support your needs, at least until you can make a career out of yourself.

Of course, that’s what I’m trying to do now.  I’m trying to start my own career.  While the job I have know is an obstacle, or as Randy Pausch calls it, the “brick wall” of my goals, it’s really not that hard to get past that brick wall.  It’s not easy either, but it’s worth the challenge.  I love challenges!

Most of the time, I would hear of people just complaining about their day at work.  They either had an argument with their co-worker; hate their bosses; complain about their pay stubs, or something like that.  Instead, what I would try to do is either meditate; write; read a book; talk to friends or family; or all of the above, so that I could find a way to move on from the “tragedies” I see at work every day.

Although working on a show can be quite stressful, it is like nature to me. It is something I would love to be stressed about.  I love it when people see my performance in Nikesha Moore’s concert, and I loved how I made an audience laugh out loud with me and Savanna’s performance.  I loved how I entertained the audience with a reading of my debut play, Behind the Mask, and even when I help the students have fun when I teach them improv and scriptwriting exercises.

This is why I keep forgetting that I would later be paid for the whole thing.  It’s like I would do these things even if I’m not being paid for the entire thing.  That is because I love doing these things.

Some people would tell me not to accept an activity that doesn’t involve getting paid, but I would disagree.  Because it’s still a job and you could really make a career out of it.  Not to mention, you could actually get hired ever something like this!  That’s why I accept any kind of job (volunteer or paid) that involves theatre or performing.  That is my passion.

My advice for you.  If you forget that you are being paid for a specific job, that’s a good thing!  This means you love that job, and you are on the road to pure happiness.  You won’t be happy all the time, but it will be an adventure you will never regret.

Truth in my Fantasies

When I was a child, I lived in a fantasy world.  My mom read me a children’s picture book every night called, Owen, by Kevin Henkes.  The story is about a little mouse who carried a fuzzy, yellow blanket around wherever he goes.  So I received a yellow blanket this one Christmas, and that’s exactly what I did.

Every time I watched something on television, I would repeat the famous lines over-and-over, and would try to sound like the characters because it made me feel like I was being them.  I would even try my hardest to sound like Spongebob or Patrick (Patrick was the easiest).

I did that because I liked to make myself laugh, and I still do.  It helps me feel entertained when I am involved with something boring or just “plain stupid.”  Like if I was taking history lessons or reading lessons (and now I love reading).

It might not be acceptable in society.  Every time I would visit my dad, he would tell me many times not to do that in public, because it is uncommon for children my age – such as six or seven – to repeat lines from television, or just talk to myself nonetheless.  Probably not because he himself was embarrassed, but was afraid I would be picked on even further from this as I would be at school pretty often.  Unfortunately, that’s what society does when they see someone who is obsessed with television or art.

This is not to offend you or anything, but let me ask you.

How many of you would do nothing but sit and watch T.V. all day?  How many of you would just ramble on-and-off about what you hear on television?  How many of you watch the news?  How many of you live your lives based on what you see on television?  Many of you would probably say, “Not me!”  But that would probably be false.

I have been told many times that television was bad for me.  That is the truth, since I had been obsessed with television all my life.  Youtube became a substitute after television became boring.  When I found out how much it was really affecting my emotional state, I started to realize what they meant.  When you watch television, you seem to lose a little sense of reality.  People think they fall in love right when they meet the person, then they get a divorce.  People decide to have children because they thought it would strengthen their relationships, but that later turns out to be work for them.  Victims retaliate with practical jokes at their bullies after being targeted once too many, but then that makes them the bully.

That’s why I wrote a bully prevention play.  Of course, I don’t regret watching shows like Spongebob, but I don’t want to be stuck in my head full of fictional worlds.  So I decided to create my own work of fiction, just to make it feel as if it came to life.  Also, I make them realistic, so that most people can start looking at reality while feeling entertained at the same time.

I’m not fond of how big time movies and popular television shows would teach people the wrong way of living their lives.  There are, however, T.V. shows like the family sitcom Dinosaurs, an animated show like Hey Arnold,  or children’s programs like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood that teach people the true meaning of life.  These are the kinds of shows I admire.  Why can’t there be shows like that?

Well, that’s what you will find in my playwrighting, especially my debut play that will be produced in the spring.  It teaches people how to handle a situation that you think is not worth living, while at the same time, it is not something as serious as it seems.  Although my fictional work is going to show that life will be unfair at times, that doesn’t mean we ourselves should be.  As a matter of fact, we can make life better.

My works are all about being human.  So in my works, you will find that fantasy is entirely fiction, but at the same time, there is truth in my fantasies.  There are lessons to be learned.  Just as long as you are conscious about them.


Writing a Play (No Spoilers)

If many of you already know, I’m a playwright.  Many of my family members would ask me, “How do you write a play?”  They ask if I create the characters first and then create the play, or if it all just “comes to me.”  They ask if I ever plan to have it produced, or maybe even published.  Well, here is how I wrote my debut play Behind the Mask.

I guess part of the reason why is because I like to write.  I have my dad’s writing abilities, so part of it is genetics.  But that’s not a complete answer.  It was he that has been asking me the most about how I found so many good ideas!  So I’m guessing I didn’t get the talent of writing fiction from him.  So… that is not the best answer.

First off, it wasn’t going to be a full-length play.  I told my mom about my gift as a playwright, and she suggested that I write a play about bullying, since I’ve been talking about it quite a lot two years prior.  I thought it was a good idea, only that it was originally intended to be a short, one-act play.  By short, I mean forty-five minutes long.  It was going to be written for the school my mom works at.

It was during my last year at college, and I couldn’t help but watch this clip from the Ellen Degeneres Show over and over again.  It was about a married couple and their two children who are still mourning over the loss of their seventeen-year-old son Tyler, who had Asperger’s.  He committed suicide years earlier after being constantly bullied, and the school took no action to help the boy even after they told the parents that everything was “fine.”  The parents did the best they could.  What I now know is that if the school only says “fine,” that doesn’t mean things are good.  It means something else.

If anything was good, Tyler would not have killed himself.

In the documentary film Bully, a couple of Tyler’s classmates had told the faculty at the school that the reason why they had no choice but to drop out of school was because the bullying continued.  This implies that the school did not take any action for those that needed help the most.

On top of that, some schools even go as far as blaming the victim.  They would even send the victim to counseling while the bullies go scot free without any counseling whatsoever, even though the bullies had more problems going on than the victims.

I thought to myself that none of this really needed to happen.  So I decided to take my mom’s word for it and write a bully prevention play.  I didn’t write an anti-bullying play because the word “anti” sounds a little negative.  It seems to create more tension to society.  Originally, I was going to write an ending where the kids get back at the bully, somewhat insulting him the way he insulted them.  I was lucky enough not to when my mom told me that people who retaliate in this way would create even more bullying.

So I didn’t write that.  I’m not going to tell you what I wrote due to spoiler warning, but what I can say is that this might help you see bullying in a different light.  That there is a more positive direction into making sure you can make your school safer.  The play will help teens feel stronger, hopeful, and feel much better about themselves.

Now I’m trying to get the play published so that people can get a better understanding of what they can do to help both the victim and the bully.  It will help even more into getting gigs at middle schools, high schools, community, and professional theatre if published.  That way more people will be able to be both entertained and understand what they are missing. Entertainment is the best way to get people to listen.

So the reason why I was able to write the play was not entirely because it came to me, but because I can relate to it very well.  I have my own experience of being picked on, and I don’t want to see it continuously happen to anyone else.  Schools don’t have to feel embarrassed about what is going on in their school.  This happens in a lot of schools.

So that’s why I wrote the play.  If I wrote an anti-bullying play, then the victim would have retaliated immorally.  Such as lashing insults at the bully or playing some sort of practical joke on him/her.  Realistically, that wouldn’t stop the bully.  That would just make the victim the bully just as much, if not more.  That’s what an anti-bully is.

Again, I will not tell you what I really did.  That would just spoil the ending.  Maybe this wasn’t much of an answer, but I can tell you that this was what was going on in my head before I even wrote the play.  Getting it published might be a challenge, but it’s worth it.




A “Childish Mind” = Creativity

I went to a birthday party today for a twelve-year-old boy I mentored for the Stage Right Autism Theatre Classes.  I showed up because I haven’t seen him and his mom for quite some time due to scheduling conflicts.  Also, he and I shared a close bond after we performed The Lion King together for the Autism Theatre Performance.  I played Mufasa while he played Simba.  He would always call me “dad” whenever we happen to run into each other.

On my way there, I got him a birthday card and a $25 amazon gift card to go with it.  I also showed up at a bouncy house.  It was a building full of bouncy equipment, like the ones you would find at graduation parties or some kiddie birthday parties.

When I was asked by his mother if I wanted to do this, there was these voices in my head that shouted, “You’re too old for this!” or “You need to act like an adult!”  Instead, I said, “Sure!”  Mostly because I knew her son would want me to join him for the fun of it all.  Surprisingly, I did have fun!  I felt like a child again!  Of course I was trying hard to be extra careful because I did not want to hurt the kids or anything, but it was an adventure.  Of course, that got me thinking.

I have said in a previous post that people with autism don’t think as “differently” as you may think.  However, there is one little exception.  I’m obviously posting about “feeling like a child again,” as many of you can relate to.  But I think there is something about the minds of people with autism.  Most of them have the mind of a child.

By that, I don’t mean that they only have the attention span of a four-year-old, or that their brains have the maturity level of a toddler.  Ever since I was little, I would impersonate television characters and repeat their lines over-and-over again.  I still do it to this day when I’m in my own private space and nobody is around.  I also had the opportunity to feel what it was like to be a kid again through watching childhood shows like Hey Arnold or Peanuts.  Most recently, I even watch some episodes of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on youtube.

I’m not saying that I’d rather be a child again rather than grow into a young man.  Yes, these are the shows I enjoy and I’m not afraid to say it.  It’s about looking back to what you’ve enjoyed as a kid, and the things I could learn as an adult.  These shows are not just made for kids, but for adults to enjoy with their kids so that they can learn something new and be more creative with their children.

Sometimes I use that as inspiration for my own creative personality.  That’s why it is important for me to have the “mind of a child.”  In a child’s mind, you find them coloring, painting, drawing, playing house, or even sharing a love for animals.  That’s what most people on the spectrum (myself included) have in common with children.

As a young man, I like to perform as an actor on the stage and write plays.  Children like to play house or even make up their own lines because they admire their parents.  I’m not that skilled of a painter or sketch artist like most people with autism, but that’s why I chose theatre performance.

I believe everyone is a child inside, and are afraid to express it as adults because they are afraid of what society might think of them.

So let me get back to Fred Rogers for instance.  He may not have autism, but he sure has the mind of a child!  If you have seen his shows, you will find him changing in his sweater and sneakers, which David Newell (Mr. McFeely) says is part of his “play clothes.”  Mr. Rogers also teaches children how they can have fun with plastic cups, and shares them stories about the Neighborhood of Make-believe, where he voices most of the puppet characters in the show.  Also, Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, and it is very unusual of ministers to express a mind such as that.

So why feel embarrassed?  If Mr. Rogers can do it, so can you!  Because of thinking like a child, I’m sure in my honest opinion that Fred Rogers was a hell of a good father to his two children.  His wife and David Newell have both said that what you see of him on television is what you get in real life.

That’s why it’s good to have the mind of a child.  That is because it makes people good parents and helps their children grow up to become good parents themselves.  Without the childish mind, the animator of Hey Arnold wouldn’t have created our favorite football-headed character; or creator of Peanuts wouldn’t have developed the story of a young boy and a dog with a human personality.  Or worse; Fred Rogers wouldn’t have voiced the puppets in the Neighborhood of Make-believe

These people are now famous and successful because they basically thought like a child.  That’s why we must embrace our childhood instead of burying it deep into the dirt.  This is all about growing up, and it has been said in Mitch Albom’s book Tuesdays with Morrie that you never stop growing.  You learn new things every day, and that’s what life’s all about.  Learn something new, and teach it to your children.

Review for “The Glass Menagerie” (Through the Prism of Autism)

A month ago, Wendy S. Duke – co-founder of Center for Applied Drama and Autism (CADA) – invited me to watch a production of The Glass Menagerie, written by the classic playwright, Tennessee Williams.  The production took place in a basement of a goodwill store in Akron, Ohio.  As I write this blog, I couldn’t help but think of the splendid performance that kept my head spinning.

There is a reason why.

Before I explain, however, I’d like to talk about some pre-performances that took place before the play began.  One was during a presentation, where some crew members act out on skits before the show, during intermission, and after the show.  Before the show, there was a presentation taking place that included historical evidence that autism existed for so long before it was even discovered.

One of the earliest observed was Henry Cavendish, a British philosopher who was considered shy and socially awkward, walking perfectly in the center of the streets and barely communicating to anyone other than his own family.  Other historical figures include Thomas Jefferson, who invented some strange machinery, and authors like Lewis Carroll.  They even mentioned how Aspergers Syndrome was finally given a name (named after Hans Asperger) and that those on the spectrum were either institutionalized, or lobotomized.

That’s what lead Wendy S. Duke and her co-founding partner Laura Stitt (who portrayed Amanda Wingfield in the play) to believe Tennessee Williams’ sister Rose, the basis of his character Laura Wingfield, had autism.  She was suffering from abnormal behaviors that tragically lead her to lobotomy.

That lead to bringing Laura Wingfield (played by Bree Chambers) to life in a way that I’ve never seen in a previous performance of Menagerie (which was Pittsburgh); that Laura showed signs of autism.  Evidence of that was from bobbing her upper body back and forth, constantly organizing her tiny animals made of glass to hide from the pain of reality, replaying the same song over and over again on the record player, and covering her ears when present in heated arguments between her mother and brother.  This makes Chambers’ performance deserve a Tony, if there was one in Akron, Ohio.

All of these are probably the behaviors Rose went through in real life, and it seemed that nobody in her family knew how to deal with her behavior and felt they had no choice but to lobotomize her, much to Williams’ dismay.

Laura Stitt’s performance as Amanda was outstanding.  She portrayed her character with humor and integrity.  Her portrayal as an overbearing mother who claims to want nothing but happiness towards her children make her role as a parent well-meaning, but also very controlling.  Amanda’s character made me credit God wholeheartedly for not making Amanda my mother, which is why I enjoyed Stitt’s performance.

Logan’s performance as Tom was a huge surprise to me.  Offstage, he perceives to me as a shy, teenage boy who is easily flattered and nervous over the greetings he gets from strangers, and even his peers.  On stage, I saw a significantly different person.  As Tom, he was not afraid to show irritability towards his mother, nor was he afraid to share his own opinions.  He is disrespectful to his mom (for he felt he was trapped) and would lash out at her for understandable reasons, which leads him to “going to the movies,” and coming home drunk.  Tom, his character, was a stubborn young man that I never thought I would see in Logan.  That’s why I’m thrilled.

During intermission, there was another pre-performance going on.  The characters in the performance were named after the characters of Menagerie.  A girl named Laura is being bullied often by her classmates, and her only defender is her brother Tom.  Sound familiar?  After the principle sends the bullies in his office, they call Tom and Laura’s mother and tell her Laura might have autism, which the mother vehemently denies but later takes under consideration.  This ends with intermission.

The last scenes take place when Laura receives her first “gentleman caller,” who turns out to be her high school sweetheart Jim O’Conner, played by Jordan Euell.  Euell’s performance as Jim was truly entertaining; passionate and outgoing.  He knew how to make his character glitter like the glass unicorn at the candlelight, but at the same time, share his flaws.  While at first giving Laura some advice on how to deal with reality, he was about to break her out of her shell.  That was until he kisses her in the heat of the moment, and confessed he was already engaged; bringing her back in her shell.

One thing to reveal is that one or two (maybe more) of the actors are on the autism spectrum.  I don’t know if I should say who, but I will say it’s the ones you wouldn’t have expected if you watched them perform.

After the show, there was a post-credit performance that continues where the pre-performance from intermission left off.  The mother finally accepts that her daughter has autism, and is relieved to find out the bullies are taking counseling.  She even found there is hope for her daughter after revealing she is talented in Math and that the school principle himself has autism.  That really made my night.

After that, I was introduced as the speaker of the day.  I explained that I absolutely related to their production of Menagerie very well and even talked about how I became involved with CADA.  I also discussed with the audience that CADA did a reading of my play, and will be doing a full production in the near future.

I am excited about the upcoming production of my play, Behind the Mask, which is a play about bully prevention.  I trust that CADA will make a splendid production of my play, and that the cast will do a wonderful job.  I can’t say more about the performance of Menagerie, since it is hard for me to express them in any more words.  All I could do is sigh nonstop, for it was an emotional rollercoaster.  It releases more adrenaline, but it was a very fun ride.

It is an honor to get to know the people in CADA, and I hope to know more about them in the future.

God, Miracles, and Yourself

In my previous blog, I talked a little bit about God and how He can control my anxieties.  I have been thinking of writing this blog for a while due to my desire to express my belief in a just being that watches over you.  I’m no pastor or anything but I can say an awful lot about what God means to me and why I think good things happen in my life.

I was 21 years old when I truly discovered God, which was when I began mentoring children at an Autism Theatre Summer Camp at Stage Right, which was a great experience.

This isn’t to criticize anyone for their faith or their beliefs.  If you are an atheist, I am not forcing you to believe anything I write.  This is just to make you think and maybe consider, but not to force you into believing in God or Jesus.

People would say that even though they pray and pray nonstop for some kind of proof of his existence, they would say they “just don’t see it.”  They just keep searching and searching until they feel a bit disappointed that they couldn’t find some kind of physical evidence.  Because of this, some of you tend to think that you are either missing something or you just lost your faith in God in general.

I have my own theories of what might be the trouble, based on not only what I’ve experienced but what I’ve learned in college.


Many people search for miracles.  Some search for evidence that someone can automatically heal from a serious wound or illness.  Others look for miracles that involve money.  But the question is why you need to “search” for miracles?  Don’t miracles happen every day?

Of course, your most natural answer would be a simple “no.”  However, I disagree.  There are miracles all around you everywhere you go.  God created a whole list of miracles.  Here is my own list:

  • Trees: The miracle behind this is they give us oxygen to breathe.
  • Birth of a child: A baby never fails to lighten the faces of human beings.
  • The sun: It gives us energy the moment we walk outside in the morning, and helps the plants grow.
  • Flowers: God gives them pollen to send a soothing scent.
  • Family: God gives you family to feel the love and the will to live.

My point is if these aren’t miracles, I don’t know what is.  I sincerely believe in miracles, especially about a woman I met recently who was not expected to survive through a coma (and I found an article that explains her experience).  But there are more than just finding miracles, which lead me to my next advice.

Have a Relationship with God

A relationship with God is more than just loving Him and praying to Him night and day.  It’s more than just talking to God about what you want in life and that you want Him to make it your future.  It’s about talking to Him like you would talk to a regular human being that you trust.  It’s about talking to God about what you’re feeling; telling Him you have messed up at some points in your life and accepting you’re not perfect.

It’s more like God wants to listen to you.  God cares more about what you’re feeling rather than what you want to feel.  In other words, He wants you to be honest about yourself; to love yourself and to accept yourself for who you are, as you want others to accept you.  Such as your sexual orientation or who you like and dislike.

God even wants you to be honest about whether or not you believe in Him. If you say you believe in Him even though deep inside you are not, then God can see that, and your life is going nowhere.  You have to be honest with yourself; whether or not you believe in God.  Of course you have to believe in Him in order to find the answer to your questions, but you have to be honest with yourself in order to develop a relationship.

He’s Always There

That leads me here to this part of my blog.  God is always in you whether or not you believe.  He always loves and will forever love you even if you don’t really feel his presence.  What you also don’t know is that the conscience you listen to, the music you hear that relaxes you, or even the loved ones you talk to, is all God.

God always speaks to you through the people that are willing to help you or the things you hear.  Let me give you an example:

So let’s say that you are in a huge amount of school debt.  You are getting depressed and you lost all your faith.  You blame God for your misfortunes.  Then you find a huge bag of cash worth as much as your student loan.  For some reason, your first thought is to spend it all on your debt and you will be free from financial instability.  Then there is this picture of yourself in your head.  You see yourself behind bars.  You remember what your parents or parent figures tell you when you find money that doesn’t belong.  You tell yourself not to do it because you might go to jail.  You could lose the trust of those that love you, while the devilish side of you says, “They will never know!” and give you some evil ideas.  Finally, you decide that the ones that love you matters most, and take the money to the police.

That’s what I mean when I say God is always there, even when you don’t see or believe in Him.  That’s also how He speaks to you.


Giving is one of the best things you can do to another human being.  Giving is not just about sending cash to a homeless man, or knitting sweaters for young children.  Giving money is for someone that has more money than is already needed, such as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who donated a lot of money to charity, claiming she didn’t need that much.  Those who knit sweaters for children are people who know very well how to make a child feel warm and comforted.

What do I do in order to give?  Well, it is something I discovered when I was volunteering at an autism theatre class at Stage Right in Greensburg.  When I mentored these students, it’s like I gave them my experience in the theatre, and even gave them the opportunity to be true to themselves and have fun.  The same feeling happened when I taught improv and scriptwriting exercises at the Center for Applied Drama and Autism (CADA).  I also give to people my writing (since it’s a blog, it’s free!), my opinions on how to prevent bullying, and even give my experience with autism through public speaking.

So people would ask, “Why am I not receiving anything?  Didn’t it say in the Bible that if I give, then I receive?”  The problem is not what you’re getting, but what you’re expecting yourself to get in return.  What you receive is praise.  Opportunities are more to what you receive later, as long as you keep giving what you are giving.

My point is you give people what they need, not necessarily what they want.  That goes the same with receiving; you receive what you need and what will make you happy, not exactly what you want.  That’s when I discovered God.


I will explain God in future blogs, but not the blog after this one.  I like to keep mine simple and easy to understand.  I just want to say that God gave me a gift to write.  He has given me other gifts too, which I consider miracles.  Maybe not miracles to you because they’re “too common,” but they are definitely miracles.

I think many of you have gifts that involve music, painting, acting, or even singing.  These are all God’s gifts.  I would not trade my artistic abilities for all the money in the world.  I like myself the way I am.  You all should also like yourselves the way you are, and treat those that love you and vice versa with respect.  How you treat others is how you treat God.

Love to all!