By Stateside Staff, Michigan Radio
The Next Idea
We in Michigan usually take great pride in our state’s natural beauty and precious resources. So, I find it incredibly disheartening that one of our state’s most beautiful and precious resources – its autistic community – is largely misunderstood, marginalized and woefully under-valued.
We live in a time when globalism and other factors are impacting Michigan’s economy. We must learn to adapt to these changing times if we are ever going to thrive again as a state. And our autistic citizens could be just the leaders we need to help create an economically, socially and culturally robust future. History is replete with examples of high-functioning autistic individuals who have changed our view of the world and how we live our lives. Psychological experts have determined that Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Michelangelo were all extremely high-functioning individuals with autism. People with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) can fall anywhere on the spectrum and be either high- or low-functioning. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. It causes me to struggle with socializing and with processing certain sensory input like lights, sounds, scents, and touch. As challenging and daunting as my life can be, autism hasn’t prevented me from becoming an author who has been read by millions of people; giving a well-received TED Talk at TEDxMSU; and being featured on the cover of the July 2016 Mensa World Journal. I was also honored by Michigan’s House of Representatives for winning a global election to become the World Genius Directory’s 2016 Genius of the Year for America. Watch Jeffrey Allen Ford’s TED Talk at TEDxMSU. Read more