How Autism Changed My Life
By Matt Frey
What if I told you that there was a community of individuals to whom your money was meaningless? That the car you drive, the job you have, and your social status were trivial? What if I told you that the currency this community accepts was in the form of love? That, in this community, your value was represented not by the amount of money in your bank account nor by your ability to meet deadlines but by the amount of caring you give, understanding you have, and authenticity you possess?
To some, this may sound like an esoteric idea only reserved for those who forfeit the belief of pursuing a “successful life.” To others, it may be reminiscent of a time in life when things were simpler; a time in life that has since been contaminated by the status quo and no longer exists. If you told me about this community five years ago, I would tell you to go back to the dream world from which you came. Not because I did not believe you but because, like many others, my mind had been consistently polluted by a different agenda; an agenda based solely on monetary value. Today I, wholeheartedly, tell you that this community is extraordinarily real. That this community has brought more abundance to my life than I could have ever imagined; that this community is the community of Autism. To this day, I am still unsure of how I ended up here. Call it serendipity or call it fate, call it what you would like because I do not know, but what I do know is that I would not change it for the world.
Five years ago I began working with adults with Autism and my life has never been the same. These young men and women are a constant reminder, every day, of what the essence of life truly is. In a day and age where it has become increasingly more difficult to remember why we are all here, working with individuals with Autism has taught me to always remember that compassion, empathy, and selflessness are more valuable than any amount of money one can attain. To work with this demographic has not only been an honor, but it has also been a true journey of the self. I have worked with these individuals in various settings; from day programs, to group homes, in the community, in private homes, and at Special Olympics. I have worked with individuals who display no behavioral issues to individuals who are extremely aggressive, self-injurious, and behaviorally challenged. Each setting and each individual have given me unique and invaluable lessons that have shaped the course of my life. In short, I write this testimonial as living proof that when you love unconditionally, when you help others expecting nothing in return, when you are selfless and compassionate, not just to individuals with Autism, but to everybody, the universe has a way of paying you back in ways that are unimaginable. My name is Matt Frey, and Autism has changed my life.