Sunday, August 24, 2014

Questions for Alec, an interview with Alec Frazier

As you know, I reconstructed the blogger recently to make it easier for consumers who have disabilities  to connect with the goods and services they need. 

In building the site and re-editing my story, Impact, for publishing, I've encountered some really neat people. In the coming weeks, I'll be interviewing different individuals. Some are people with disabilities, others have designed exciting new products in the field of assistive technology, still others work in disability service in some capacity.

My first interviewee is my friend and fellow Team Impact member, Alec Frazier. Alec is a seasoned disability rights advocate who owns and operates the business, Autistic Reality

Alec has a number of diagnoses, including Hip Displasia, Sensory Integration Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dysgraphia and Digital Atonia, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Asperger's Syndrome. Feel free to ask any questions about these conditions. Alec will answer!

Alec is autistic and grew up in a progressive household with parents who refused to place him in a segregated educational setting and as a result was mainstreamed throughout his entire educational career.

Alec received his Associate’s from TC3, but has also taken classes at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Cornell. He is currently obtaining his B.A. in Political Science from the University at Buffalo as well as obtaining his M.A. in “Humanities - Interdisciplinary” with a formal Concentration in Disability Studies.

Alec works as a Community Advocate for WNY Independent Living Inc. (WNYIL), a Public Speaker and Advocate in Disability Rights Advocacy, a Student Advisory Council (SAC) Affiliate Liaison for the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN®), and does Public Relations for Visions Comic Art Group.

I have to admit, my knowledge of autism is rather vague and I'm quite interested in learning more. Sadly, when asked about autism, many of us think back to stories someone has told of a child, shut off from society and imprisoned in their own world, or we flash back to that Tom Cruise/ Dustin Hoffman movie, Rainman. I don't think either is a realistic picture of autism.

In my story, Impact, I try to dispel myths about disability. It's my hope, that by interviewing Alec, we can become more aware of autism.

Alec has offered a frank discussion about his life with autism and has invited our questions.

I have a number of my own questions. Is there something you've always wanted to know about autism, but were afraid to ask?

Do you know someone with autism? Do you have questions about accessing services for someone who is autistic?

Do you have questions about independent living?

Please post your questions in my facebook community.

The interview will post the following Wednesday, September 4, 2014 right here.

We will accept questions until 8/30.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A sad farewell...

I had planned to write today, but it's been difficult to get my mind off the loss of one of America's most beloved funny men, Robin Williams. It's hard for me to remember a time when he wasn't a part of our lives. My house didn't have cable growing up, so our exposure to mainstream entertainment was minimal, but I remember fondly spending evenings at my grandmother's house in front of the TV watching such classics as Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley and of course, Mork and Mindy. My exposure to comedy was limited to more mature entertainers like Jack Benny, George Burns, and Uncle Miltie. Robin Williams and his youthful brand of funny was something I could relate to and embrace.
Through the years I've enjoyed the wit and humor of this talented entertainer and it saddens me beyond words to learn that he's gone.
Often when one passes far too soon, as Robin has, we see an outpouring of love towards the family, with fond remembrances of the person who has passed. It's encouraging to see, with Robin's death, an outpouring of love towards all of humankind-compassionate messages of encouragement, support and solidarity for individuals who battle depression on a daily basis; so while Robin's death is a terrible, tragic loss, perhaps from it we'll learn to be more understanding and compassionate towards those who struggle daily with an invisible condition many of us cannot comprehend.
I think it's hard for many to reconcile Robin's battle with depression and his public persona, but I think fellow comedian, Josh Sundquist, best summed it up.
"How could someone so funny commit suicide?
But that's the thing about comedy. It frequently grows out of deep personal pain.
To the audience, comedy appears to be a sign of internal joy, overflowing happiness that bubbles over into jokes.
But for the comic, it’s often simply a way to deal with the pain. An outward expression of inner demons." -Josh Sundquist, August 11, 2014
Depression is an invisible illness, often shrouded in secrecy. We don't want to talk about it and many who live with it hide it well. Because of this, many people who have not personally experienced depression have difficulty recognizing it as a real disorder. I think Robin's death has been a much needed wake-up call to us all, shining a light on a subject many people don't understand.
By not validating someone's depression and by treating it like something that can be turned on and off at will exacerbates the situation. Seemingly innocuous comments are hurtful and can often send someone dealing with depression into a tailspin, so please, use your words carefully and be considerate to others. A compassionate gesture can save a life. Be nice, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about...
Rest easy, Robin. You’ll be sorely missed.

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