One Man’s Story: From Anti-Social to Social

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I find that it’s always good to start from the beginning and say what I am in order to inform what I am not. I am an autistic social worker, author, and motivational speaker from Derry City in Ireland’s northwest.

Like many autistic children, I went through mainstream school, and compared to everyone else, I felt debilitatingly different. I had a classroom assistant follow me everywhere I went, and I couldn’t mingle and play like my little peers could. It was a bewildering time for me, and I was too young to understand the extent of my social and sensory differences. I spent most of my early youth reading books and writing short stories.

This bewilderment continued when I was in secondary school. As a hormonal and testosterone-filled teenage boy, I resented myself and couldn’t understand the reason why I still needed to be fussed over. During that time, I suppose I felt like a leper with a bell around his neck. Can I say others viewed me like that? Probably not. I felt it internally and did everything I could to fit in. Back in the middle of my teens in 2005, I joined a youth group. This group wasn’t an autistic-support group as not many existed then. I made friends, could channel my boundless energy into helping others, and in time, I became a youth leader. I wasn’t good at small talk, but I could help others achieve their goals and advocate on behalf of the group for charitable funding.

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Using this experience, I trained and qualified as a social worker. With a newfound love for my neurotype, I realized that being a social worker could help me to see situations and crises logically before advising accordingly. When I graduated university, I started working. I felt that being autistic was something I left behind. In my mind, being autistic was an affliction for children that I was free from.

In July 2013, I became a Dad. My hero and absolute favorite human ever to grace the planet was born. Ethan is the world’s most excited and loveable child (forgive my bias in this department). Although my view and love of Ethan has always been present, the ever-changing landscape of fatherhood caused me to struggle, and I craved my need for routine more than ever. It was a difficult time for me, and my son could see that. When Ethan was able to notice and comment on my discomfort, I had to learn that being autistic was perfectly fine and that I was autistic for life.

As a child, it was easy to view myself as disabled. I wasn’t like everybody else, and I was the eternal victim in my mind. I have always had a high level of self-awareness, and my negative bias always kept me in the darkest of corners—away from public view. In time, I learned that being autistic was a gift. All the advantages and opportunities in my life were because I had channelled my passions into gaining positive outcomes for myself, as well as others.

If I could travel back in time—which I may add that time travel was hypothesized by a fellow autistic Albert Einstein—I would have learned to love and be proud of my autistic self. I know that autistic children have varying levels of need and other underlying health conditions, but self-acceptance and self-love will always be a positive thing for those who exercise it.

Eventually, my passion was then channelled into the writing of my debut book Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad? I wanted my son to have an account of my early life, and a happy byproduct of my writing is that autistic people and their caretakers all over the globe can begin to see that those with disabilities such as autism can grow and live happy, successful lives. I simply don’t want any other autistic child to go through what I went through, and I hope to exemplify that possibilities in life are boundless if we make them.

About the author:

Jude Morrow presented communication and social difficulties early in life, which led to a diagnosis of Asperger Type Autism at the age of 11. Despite having educational challenges, Jude progressed through secondary school and graduated from the University of Ulster with an honors degree in social work in 2012. Jude now works as a social worker and is a motivational speaker and advocate for all things autism. His debut book Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad? is a candid view of life and love through the eyes of an autistic adult. When not speaking, writing, or social working, Jude loves spending time with his son, Ethan, enjoying the outdoors, cooking, and reading.

Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad? is available through Beyond Words Publishing. For more about Jude Morrow, please visit his website at https://www.judemorrow.com/.

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