September 2011 - Inspiring Autism Story
Erik Weber, MPA
The "Inspirational Autism Stories" program was designed to honor someone with autism from the San Diego community. Selected honorees stand as an inspiration to others with autism, to parents with a newly diagnosed child, as well as to people without the disorder. Individuals selected for this honor participate in a live interview or fill out a questionnaire that asks questions such as:
- "What are you most proud of?"
- "What would you say to younger people just learning about their diagnosis for the first time?"
Our new honoree is selected and responses are posted on the ACE website to inspire the people who read their stories.
Erik Weber was chosen as ACE's person of the month because of his accomplishments in life's adventures. His fun loving attitude and dedicated work ethic can be a source of inspiration to us all. Here are a few responses on how autism helped shape Erik Weber to be the person he is today.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of earning a Bachelor’s Degree in International Development Studies at Point Loma Nazarene University, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at San Diego State University, my continuing accomplishments and involvement in Special Olympics, and being able to achieve these things in spite of doctors stating when I was age three that I would not be mentally older than eighteen months and that my parents should place me in an institution. That turned out to be college.
Do you have any special skills?
- Memorizing and reciting comedic monologues and facts
- Public speaking
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Microsoft Excel
- Research and analytical skills
- Running and other sports
- Video games
How has having a diagnosis of autism helped you in life?
Having a diagnosis of autism has helped me empathize from a first-person perspective with other individuals who have learning differences and advocate regarding what is important toward fostering and cultivating undiscovered talent. The most relevant necessity for progress is trust, through which there can be education, theory of mind, and going outside of the comfort zone to grow as a person and develop new abilities. A child-driven education is important.
How has having a diagnosis of autism made your life more challenging?
I have had to deal with communication, behavioral, and learning issues. These are the hurdles one faces with Autism. The lack of communication would lead to behavioral issues and learning issues because it is necessary for trust to be developed between persons with Autism and those who are part of the education process.
What are your favorite things?
- Working out
- Special Olympics
- Memorizing and reciting comedic monologues
- Funny Youtube clips
What would you say to younger people just learning about their diagnosis for the first time?
I would share with them the ten things they need to know about my Autism.
- I am really smart! Don’t underestimate me.
- "Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say."
- I have a sense of humor!
- Stupid people and "whiners" test my patience!
- Two things I can’t live without are God and Nascar.
- We do feel emotions. If we didn’t feel emotions, why would we scream?!
- We are capable of learning consequences, even at an early age!
- We are able to apply skills in more than one area...memorizing comedy and memorizing academics.
- You have to find a way to connect with us first...trust is important.
- It is important to strive for excellence instead of settling for mediocrity. Failure is failing to try.
I believe in the power of the "Human Factor," for which there are 6 dimensions:
- Spiritual Capital (the universal principles by which we ought to live)
- Moral Capital (the right and wrong based on those principles)
- Aesthetic Capital (the beauty and ugliness of what we create)
- Human Capital (the knowledge and skills we acquire)
- Human Abilities (the competencies of those skills)
- Human Potential (Undiscovered Talent)
These dimensions must be fostered and cultivated in children with Autism so that we can Speak with voices "Louder than Words."
Erik N. Weber, MPA
San Diego State University, 2011
Reprinted with permission from
a lecture, "Living with Autism."
What are your hopes and dreams?
- Have all persons with learning differences receive opportunities for
- Special Olympics World Games.
- Go to the Daytona 500.
- Drive a NASCAR race car.
- Talk on NASCAR Trackside about NASCAR and Special Olympics.
- Meet Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Meet Michael Waltrip.
- Meet Will Ferrell.
- Swim with the dolphins in the Bahamas.
- Graduate from the University of San Diego Law School.
- Go to Ford Field in Detroit and play football with the Detroit Lions.
- Meet Daunte Culpepper.
- Go to a Super Bowl.