Thursday, September 25, 2014

Part Three- Questions for Alec, an Interview on Living Life with Autism.

My apologies for the late post, some personal stuff came up that couldn't wait.
Welcome to part three of Alec Frazier's interview.

What kind of accommodations do you use in dealing with your disabilities? Do you require anything specific in your working or learning environment that might be beneficial for others to learn about? Is there a special piece of software or a special assistive device that is really important for you?

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 1, Nuance Commincations.

These days, I use a few accommodations, but not as many as you may think. Crucial to doing anything is writing. However, as I have mentioned, I have two writing disabilities. As a result, I use dictation software to speak into a voice-activated system which renders my speech as text on the computer. The current software I use is Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 13. In addition to working with a word processor, it also works with emails, Facebook, the Internet, and just about anything I do on the computer. Another accommodation, one I use at school, and occasionally elsewhere, is having notes provided to me by someone else. That is because of the writing disabilities. I also have time and a half and a quiet, secluded location for tests at the school. Often this goes hand-in-hand with use the voice-activated software. One accommodation that I have on paper is the right to have electronic textbooks provided for me. These e-texts are then fed into a reading software that reads it back to me. However, I have also become quite adept at speed reading, which is been sufficient for the last couple years. Believe it or not, that is all the accommodation that I have at the moment.

What are the greatest barriers for you as a person who is autistic? These differ greatly from the physical barriers we often associate with someone who has a disability.

The greatest barriers for myself and several other autistic individuals is that we do not perform socially the same way that others do. This entails a wide variety of behaviors. Sometimes we do not understand things, and often make fun of them for existing, making us seem like the bullies. What I mean by making fun of people for existing is that we often find simple things silly, such as people’s names, or the way they dress. I am not trying to say that an autistic person’s lack of social finesse is their fault, but rather that we end up perceiving things differently than the rest of the population, and this can cause difficulties. It is this difference in perception and the ensuing troubles that is one of the greatest barriers for an autistic person. Of course, we also do not make friends as well as most people do, as was mentioned earlier. Therefore, when many accommodations with disabilities would include a ramp or an automatic door, for an autistic person, they would include patience and a willingness to understand.

Tiffany would like to know how much of a change you have seen from when you were a child to now, about the way people handle the news of their child having autism or a disability. You and I have talked about later in life diagnoses of people on the autism spectrum and even misdiagnoses of other neurodiverse conditions that are later attributed to autism. Can you tell us what you’ve learned about how social, sensory and stress factors that didn’t formerly exist are now causing individuals whose behaviors might have been seen as odd twenty years ago to receive an autism diagnosis?

Alec Frazier and his brother Nick at Waterworld in Colorado in the 1990s.

What I have to say on this matter will be very comforting to parents of younger autistic children. I have seen dramatic, almost unbelievable improvement since I was a child. For example, I used to be almost completely incapable of understanding social cues, and the ramifications could often be quite severe. Nowadays, I not only get social cues, but I help people understand them and generate several myself! In addition, I used to throw temper tantrums quite often. Nowadays, that never happens. The last time I was physically violent towards someone was in self-defense almost ten years ago. Nowadays, I believe that belligerent violence is never the answer. Parents need to be able to educate their children on proper social cues, proper behavior, and other important matters. Sometimes it helps if the autistic child believes that they have discovered the proper method of behaving by themselves. Having autistic children talk about their problems with their peers as equals is always important. It is also most important never to condescend to your child or in any way make them feel like they are less than you. Be a fun parent! Do activities with them! Always tell them that you love them! It also doesn’t hurt to tell them that they are not alone in the world of autistic people, and that they share their beautiful minds with people such as Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Bill Gates, Leonardo da Vinci, and many others who have been quite successful in life!

Remember that being autistic is not a fault, and no one is to blame for the child’s condition. Remember that the condition is genetic, and staying away from various substances or vaccinations would not have prevented it. Also remember that you can empower your child to live a more productive life! Just because someone is a nonverbal autistic person does not mean that they are stupid. I have met many nonverbal autistic people who are quite articulate, just in different ways.

Many people believe that autism is caused by vaccinations or something in the water, or something else environmental. That is complete hogwash. The rates of autism have not gone up. Instead, a convergence of factors has made it seem more frequent. For one thing, there are more people on the planet than ever before, which of course means more autistic people. In addition, various stress factors that exist in today’s society and formerly did not cause autistic tendencies to manifest themselves more frequently. Social media alone can be a nightmare for people with autism. Due to our sensory difficulties, living in a modern, urban environment often brings out more stress. Due to the fact that the development of modern urbanity has only happened in the last fifty years, this makes autism seem much more prevalent. When you add that a lot of the other stimuli provided by modern technology and way of life, it is easy to see why there appear to be more autistic people. In reality, the percentages have not changed.

Let me explain two words that everybody on the planet should know and use. Neurotypical is a word used to describe people without mental variations. Neurodiverese is a word used to describe people with mental variations. Autism, depression, ADD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Down’s Syndrome can all be seen as forms of neurodiversity. This concept was conceived by an autistic sociologist in the 1990s as an alternative to thinking of these mental variations as illnesses or problems. For this reason, I frown upon the term “mental illness”, because the word “illness” treats the mental conditions at hand as if they are problems. With proper accommodation and work, they do not have to be problems. I also frown upon the term “handicapped”. This is because of the origin of the word. Back in the day, people with disabilities would hold out a cap in their hand begging for money. Using the term handicapped is demeaning and speaks to a very negative stereotype. The idea of thinking of disability as a form of diversity, instead of a problem, is called the social model of disability, as opposed to the old method of thinking of it as a problem, which is called the medical model. Once you learn to accept disability as a form of diversity instead of a problem, much of the stigma goes away.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do use the word “retarded”, but there are a number of conditions to my use of that word. First of all, I never use it to refer to the disabled, but rather in its completely different slang meaning which originated before its use as a diagnostic term. As a slang term, it refers to someone who does not “get” things, someone stupid, regardless of their mental state or condition. Therefore, it does not refer to the disabled, but rather to the stupid. Secondly, I never use the term in a working or political environment, as the term has no place in business. It should be noted that my use of that word has gotten me in hot water with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), who have stated that I do not have the right to use that word, even in my private time. They terminated my employment with them, but I do not want to work for them anyway, because I refuse to work for any person or entity that violates the First Amendment to the Constitution. I have the right to use slang on my private time, and since my use of the word does not refer to the disabled, I see any offense that someone takes to the word as perceived by them, regardless of the actual meaning of my usage of the word, which is not meant as harmful to the disabled.

You’ve posted a collage on your Facebook describing the way other people see a person with autism vs how your life really is… When people hear someone is autistic, they automatically think of someone who is locked inside their own mind, unable to interact with the world, or they see Rain Man. While I love Dustin Hoffman as an actor, I suspect that the Hollywood version of Autism is sort of like going to one of those Americanized Chinese Buffets where everything is served up to meet people’s expectations of what it they think it should be versus the authentic version.

The upper left image is of a number of my friends at a creative meeting, at least three of whom I would guess are autistic. The upper middle image is of a helpless child, embodying how Autism Speaks sees the autistic population. The upper right image is of a bunch of protesters—political hell-raisers—which is what the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) wishes to make of us. The middle right image is of a woman being confronted by an absolutely crazy creature clearly about to disrupt her life by throwing a pie in her face, which explains how many neurotypical people may sometimes view the neurodiverse. The middle center image is of a poster for the film “Rain Man”, which, as you mention, has come to embody the iconic stereotypical pop culture view of autistic people. The middle right image is of the cover to the children’s book The Little Engine That Could, which features the train engine that overcomes tremendous obstacles, representing how the parents of autistic people often see them. The bottom left image is of me with a lot of my friends at my birthday party at the Buffalo Zoo, to illustrate how autistic people actually are with their friends. The bottom center image is of me hugging my mother and enjoying a tender moment, to illustrate how autistic people actually are with family. Finally, the bottom right image is of me giving a keynote address to over a hundred people in Auburn, New York, illustrating how autistic people actually are at work.

I’ve read that individuals with autism are more likely to have an interaction at some point in their lives compared to the general public. This is a frightening statistic. The Justice Department released a comment in July that it is working on a curriculum to educate local officers about interacting with citizens who have cognitive disorders. It seems the state of California has become forward thinking in this aspect as they have begun offering seminars for individuals with autism to be able to interact with law enforcement officers so both groups have better understanding. What advice can you offer a parent with a child who is autistic in preparing their child for a possible interaction with authority figures? We teach our children to go to the police if they are lost or in danger, but it’s a confusing situation when those same children must be warned that the officers who are supposed to be protecting them can cause them potential harm, how does one find a proper balance where their child is educated but not fearful?

The main piece of advice I would give to an autistic person dealing with authority figures is something they should excel at. Provide the authority figures with their diagnosis, and what that entails. That means that if they are having a stressful moment, they will need to calm down first. Nonetheless, this should be pretty easy since we can compartmentalize so easily. Autistic people love dealing in facts and volumes of information. Conveniently, this is something the law enforcement and other authorities also require to do their jobs. Failing that, make sure that the autistic child is well-versed in the parts of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution which protect them from any abuses by law enforcement. Mind you, the advice that I just gave you is best suited for autistic children on the higher end of the spectrum, who can talk and interact with law enforcement. Another good tool for an autistic person to deal with authorities is a card explaining their situation that can be put in their wallet, something like the following:

Card identifying an individual with autism, SEOPittsburgh, 2010

In order for a child to be educated, not fearful, let me speak to the parents of autistic children for a moment. Parents, if there is one lesson for you, it is to push your kids. Push them, even if they resist tremendously. Mainstream your kids in education. Make sure that they know how to use public transit. Try to make sure that they know how to fly on their own. Help them navigate public spaces. Encourage them to go out on their own, so that when they reach a certain age, they are doing things by themselves, instead of always having a parent do everything for them. I know that most of these lessons are good only for someone on the higher end of the spectrum, but if you are on the lower end and have an aid, go out with your aid and try to navigate the world with their help, and not with a parent. My parents often created incentives for me to go out and do things on my own. I understand that children are precious, but they should not be coddled. In terms of dealing with law enforcement, make sure that your child knows their rights, and that they know to stay calm in any situation involving law enforcement. I do understand that law enforcement sometimes has very low patience, but it will reflect positively upon the autistic person in question if they are not the ones at fault.

Many families who have a member whose diagnosis falls under the category of neuro-diversity, be it Alzheimer’s, autism, a cognitive functioning difference; worry about that person wandering off and being harmed or worse. A few years ago, a little boy in my community wandered off at Christmas. His father had recently passed away, it was a very stressful and frightening time for the family. The little boy was never found in time and unfortunately, he succumbed to the frigid weather conditions. His disappearance inspired a huge grant program funding tracking devices for individuals at risk of wandering off and not being able to find their way home. This is a controversial subject, many caregivers see it as a Godsend, many individuals with disabilities see it as a huge invasion of privacy. Your thoughts?

Whoa boy. This is a tricky issue. I definitely prefer not to have tracking devices of any kind on people. The idea is, that if you are a good parent or a good caretaker, these tracking devices are completely unnecessary. Let me draw a parallel. I know somebody who got a talking ball from a pet store, and gave it to their autistic child. They recorded it with their voice, and let their child take it everywhere, including school. This idea is completely idiotic, because it makes our children completely dependent on their parents, and uses a ball—I repeat a ball, you know one of those round things that is supposed to sit there until you throw it—to do the parents’ job, and do the teacher’s job. The relevant point is that parents and teachers and caregivers should do their job, instead of relying upon technology to do it for them. I actually feel rather strongly about this.

And last, but certainly not least, you’ve recently become the director of your own company, Autistic Reality. How did that all come about? What made you decide to start your own business and what types of services do you offer to the public?

Alec Frazier giving a keynote address in Auburn, New York as part of his services with Autistic Reality.

I have realized that I have a rather unique philosophy in life. I am more liberal than Autism Speaks, who view the autistic population as helpless victims, but I am more realistic than the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), who view us as revolutionaries who must fight like hell, almost to the point of open revolt. I believe that life is a person with autism should be governed by realistic expectations for the world around you, and realistic behavior, embracing such customs as slang, clapping during presentations, and other social behavior. Believe it or not, ASAN believes that these customs are inappropriate. Most of the people in that crowd call themselves advocates, but are actually activists. I do find the difference between them in that advocates work within the system by having talks, meetings, and trying to cooperate with people, while activists throw protests, rallies, vigils and tend to sue people before they try to work with them. Therefore, with this realistic philosophy towards life, I decided to name my new firm Autistic Reality. It has recently been legally incorporated as a sole proprietorship consultancy firm.

The logo for Autistic Reality. The idea is that reality is being viewed through a lens. I intentionally avoided puzzles and puzzle pieces, light bulbs, and the color blue. The logo itself was devised by my friend and mentor, Emil Novak, Sr.

As for what the firm does, after a wonderful life of learning how to advocate for myself and others, I realized that I had services to provide. I discovered that I am a wonderful public speaker, have a knack for photography, can put on some awesome events, can do promotional work, but most importantly, that I can advocate on behalf of myself and others. I have been through the corridors of power advocating for changes in disability policy. When I was in middle school, I got a state constitutional amendment passed to raise funding for education. What I consider my legacy up to this point in my life is the establishment of the Community Living Administration, a federal agency. Since the late 1960s, the Independent Living movement has been trying to establish a federal agency to promote their interests. One day, I and approximately eight other people spoke to a staffer for Sen. Chuck Schumer, urging him to promote the creation of said agency. What happened next was completely unexpected. The very next day, he went into the Senate chambers, and proposed a bill creating that agency. Even more unexpected, the bill passed and the agency was created. I know that I can enact change in this world, and the big lesson for everyone else is that they can too!

If you’d like more information on Alec’s Business, Autistic Reality you can find him at

You can find Autistic Reality on Facebook at

You can find Alec’s book, Without Fear: the First Autistic Superhero, on Facebook at

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to my readers for joining us and for posting questions for Alec; and Alec, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to answer and for being an integral part of my pre-publication team. Your time is greatly appreciated.

Thank you, Denise, for the questions, and all of the hard work that you do!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Part Two- Questions for Alec, an Interview on Living Life with Autism.

Hello Everyone,

Today bring us part two of our question and answer session with Alec Frazier as he shares a bit of advice on education and travel tips for families who have an individual with autism. We also have a surprise guest today, Alec's special travel partner, Millard.

Take it away Alec.

I’ve heard that you’re quite the globe trotter. Do you have a favorite place you’d go to again and again if you could? Someplace you’ve never been but would love to see? Is there someplace you’ve visited that would be an ideal travel destination for a family who has a member that is autistic?

The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World, Alec Frazier’s favorite amusement park attraction ever!

I would love to go to Walt Disney World over and over again! I have already been there four times. They keep on adding new things, and soon they will have a land dedicated to James Cameron’s Avatar, which I am looking forward to a great deal! I would love to go back to Rome, London, Paris, Berlin, Florence, Venice, and a number of other places now that I have a proper camera. In terms of places I have not gone before in my life, I would like to go to Vienna and Prague. There are a number of other places that I would be interested in, such as Bavaria, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Moscow, Russia. I am not going to go to Russia until they rescind their horrible laws against homosexuality. I would also like to go to Amsterdam and The Hague, as well as Madrid. When I travel somewhere, I go to take photographs, as well as enjoy the beautiful architecture. Landscaping is also something I enjoy tremendously. I also collect capital buildings, and would love to visit more of them!

Alec Frazier in the center of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

For a family with an autistic individual, I would suggest that they visit a number of the sites in Washington, DC and New York City, as they are known for being very accessible to people with disabilities. For example, the Capitol Building and Library of Congress in Washington, DC are reasonably quiet compared to many other tourist attractions, and that is easy for someone with sensory difficulties. Government buildings tend to be very beautiful, as they are built to showcase the prestige of the populations they represent. I would also recommend a lot of other beautiful churches, other places of worship, and government buildings for the same reasons that I recommend government buildings. These government buildings and places of worship also have wide open spaces, which is important for people with autism, as we sometimes feel like our personal space is being encroached upon. It is also good to visit universities and places on their campuses because people are often trying to study, and they keep quiet. Overseas, and occasionally in the US, there are a number of monastic environments such as missions and abbeys were people have even taken vows of silence, and that is very easy on the ears.

Alec Frazier with the famous statue of FDR in his wheelchair at the FDR Memorial. A quote by Eleanor Roosevelt about her husband’s disability is available at wheelchair height and in braille behind the statue.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and the major museums in New York City are extremely accessible because they are used to large numbers of people, and the larger the numbers of people, the more people with accessibility needs are expected to attend. The Smithsonian Institution is free, which is really quite awesome! I would recommend visiting monuments and memorials everywhere, as those tend to be quieter environments, and in the United States of America they also tend to be pretty accessible. A hallmark of disability design can be found in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, which features a statue of the president in a wheelchair, and a message on disability in braille in the main entrance. It should be noted that the disability community had to fight like hell for these features to be included. It is also very sensory friendly Memorial, with a lot of peacefully running water and tactile spaces. It should also be noted that people with fears of enclosed spaces should stay away from the interior of the Washington Monument and the dome climbs on many buildings, as these can be quite cramped. Museum buildings tend to be some of the more accessible places wherever you go in this country, with the more public ones like art museums, science museums, and museums run by national, state, and local governments being among the most accessible. If you are ever in Buffalo, New York, don’t forget to stop by the world’s only Museum of disABILITY History on Main Street!

Alec Frazier with lemurs in the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany.

In Western Europe, many tourist sites tend to be very accessible, often more so than in the United States since they have improved on the ADA to a degree that we have not. I very highly recommend the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany. It has spaces that are very accessible to people with mobility and sensory impairments. Keep in mind though that a lot of cute, friendly animals are allowed to roam free in that zoo. There is plenty to cuddle with! In Eastern Europe, however, accessibility still has a lot of catching up to do. I would also stay away from smaller castles and medieval buildings, because although the authorities that be try to retrofit those buildings, they are not always very successful. I have to admit that I have not traveled to Latin America, Africa, or Asia, but it should be noted that those places have a pretty poor record of accessibility for people with disabilities.

You recently shared your experiences using various modes of transportation during your trip to California, it sounds like you had a very enjoyable trip and navigated the transportation system well. Do you have any pointers for readers who are autistic or who might be traveling with an autistic child? Perhaps you have ideas to help lessen the sensory overload of navigating a crowded airport or being stuck on a long flight?

The key for all autistic people who wish to deal better with hectic public situations is to compartmentalize. You should view yourself as one unit, and the world around yourself as another unit. Then, and this can be kind of tricky, pick and choose the appropriate times and methods to deal with the world around yourself. Of course, this leads to temptation to shut yourself off completely from the world. Never do this! Be a part of the world, but establish healthy boundaries. This is the mental part of my tip. As for physical stimuli, I have noticed a number of autistic people using sound canceling headphones, and that might be a good idea. If someone takes issue with it, tell them that it is a disability accommodation. When traveling on an airplane, it is often very tempting to take the window seat. This actually squeezes you in with very limited means to maneuver. Take the aisle seat! That way, you have the most possible room during the majority of the flight, except when the flight attendants are serving. Bringing a book along is also a wonderful idea, but cassette tapes or something else to listen to will do just as well. For family members of autistic children and adults, please keep in mind that you have to be patient.

I will not lie. Once, airport police was called on me because I was overwhelmed. This was when I was already an adult, so I calmly told them that I was autistic and having sensory overload. They told me that they understood, and were just concerned about my safety. In the case of a child, it would be very useful to have a calm, collected guardian who can tell authorities the same thing. Also, airports often provide staff members to guide underaged minors through the process. Having one of these staff members accompany an autistic minor is a wonderful idea. Many autistic people, although not all, will eventually be able to navigate airports on their own.

And on the fun side of travel, because travel should be enjoyable… You don’t travel alone, your friend Millard has gone on a number of adventures with you. It appears this might be a family tradition. You’re not the only member of your family who travels with a companion are you? Scotch Tapir is quite the globetrotter as well. Could you tell us a little bit about this tradition? How did it start and who initiated it? I’ve got to admit, I’ve got a travel companion of my own. There are a number of pictures someplace on the internet that feature myself, my daughter Patti, our friend Debbie Powell and a sharp dressed guy with shades by the name of Pocket Edward. Good times, in ChicagoMaine

Millard the Buffalo at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, where that country’s first democratic Parliament took place in 1848.

Ha! Yes, I bought Millard the Buffalo at the gift shop in the student center of my university, the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has since gone a number of places, some mundane, and some very interesting. In the United States, he has gone around Buffalo, Ithaca, Southern California, New York City, and Colorado. In Europe, he has gone around Germany including Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, and Stade. Some of the more exciting places he has been include Griffith Park Observatory, the San Diego Zoo, the Morgan Library and Museum, the Römer (seat of the Holy Roman Empire for at least 600 years), and the tomb of the three Magi in Cologne Cathedral. Some of the more intriguing places he has been include on top of a lily pad in the Denver Botanic Gardens, on a scale in a gas station in Batavia, New York, on an original staircase from the long since demolished Penn Station in New York City, on the praying hands of Father Junipero Sera at the Mission in San Diego, and even with an eight foot tall flower! Of course, I cannot begin to explain all of the crazy situations he has found himself in! I intend on taking him to every new land where I travel, and take photos of him with  many of the sites!

Scotch Tapir with the famous reclining Buddha of Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand.

When my father was a child, he had a little stuffed dog named Pinky. Through a series of unfortunate events, that dog was lost a few years ago. I offered to buy him a new stuffed friend. When we went to the gift shop at the Denver Zoo, we selected a small stuffed tapir. I named her Scotch is a joke. You get it? Scotch Tapir? The idea was that he would have something small, yet cuddly when he travels. He took it to the extreme, taking Scotch all over the world, especially Southeast Asia, and taking photos of her everywhere! Buddhist temples! On elephantback! At fortresses! Even on a lily pad—you can see where I got that idea! So when I bought Millard, I decided that he embodied something unique about me. Buffaloes are rugged and tough, yet often playful. I named him after one of the founders of my university, Millard Fillmore. While he was the first Chancellor of my university, Fillmore also held a very important job out of town. He was president of the United States! My dad’s girlfriend also has a stuffed rabbit named Wasz, which is short for Wazskawy Wabbit. Wasz’s trips have been significantly more limited.

Lucy the Wombat

It should be noted that everyone in my immediate family has a totem animal which they best embody and is best embodies them. I am playful, curious, and cuddly, so I am a wombat. My father is happy, loving, and also very playful, so he is a yellow lab. My brother has odd habits, is very rambunctious, and, you guessed it, playful, so he is an otter. My mother is multitalented, also loves to cuddle, and of course, playful, so she is a cuttlefish. Each of us has a stuffed animal version of our totem animal. My wombat is named Lucy, my mother’s cuttlefish is named Magic Fingers, I’m not sure what my brother named his otter, or if he still has it even (he lives a very wild life), and my father’s yellow lab is named Joyful. I have also given fellow fan fiction writer Betti Gefecht a lemur, which she has named Fulton, and which plays with her cat quite regularly! My home is also called The Wombatorium, and has its own Facebook page!
I see you as a very strong, self-directed young man who has embraced life. It sounds like you had a unique experience growing up. In a day when many kids who learned differently were segregated into “special” classrooms, your parents refused to do that. Can you tell my readers how that impacted your learning experience? Children can be cruel. Someone in my life was diagnosed at a very early age with a learning disability. Prior to being identified as a person with a disability this person was a social butterfly, being moved to a non-inclusive classroom created a stigma that lasted through out school and with that, socialization took a huge nosedive. How did being mainstreamed impact your social interactions? Do you feel your fellow students treated you like everyone else in a mainstreamed environment?

Julie Kearney, Alec Frazier’s Special Education teacher and caseworker during his senior year in high school with Alec Frazier when they were reunited during his ten year high school reunion.

In the short run, my learning experience in the mainstream population was both positive and negative. In the long run, it has been completely positive. As for the positives, I got to experience how everybody interacts with one another, I got to eventually make friends with other students, I got to experience the same learning and class lessons that everyone else did, and although at I frequently did not feel like everyone else, I was definitely treated like everyone else. In addition to that, I had caseworkers in the Special Education department who were very devoted in making sure that my cause was advanced throughout the school. My parents were, as you said, instrumental in making sure that I was treated with the respect that every human being deserves. They went above and beyond the call of duty, and made sure that by the time I was eighteen, I was ready to live on my own and support myself with a bank account, traveling on my own, an apartment, and control over my own finances.

Students did not always treat me as an equal. There was frequent bullying in public school, although the worst bullying came in community college. There is a piece of advice that people tell you which seems like a cliché, but it is very useful. You are better than the bullies. You are always better than the bullies! Gay rights advocate Dan Savage started a whole campaign telling people one simple message: It Gets Better. That is true, not just for the gay population, but for the disabled population as well. As a child, I was often frightened and did not get along well with others. Now, I am an empowered disability rights advocate who has gotten a standing ovation from JFK’s sister, passed two pieces of legislation, established his own advocacy firm, and even better, I have tons and tons of friends! It should be noted that my friends are almost all people without disabilities. After all, most of the human population does not have disabilities, so the same is true for my friends. No matter how much the bullying or pressure hurts, never give up. You will have a wonderful future!

Mary is having issues advocating for her daughter’s educational needs and asks how to overcome when a school fights you for giving a student what she needs? The IEP is a very important tool in a child’s educational plan. Can you provide other tips that might help Mary advocate for what her daughter needs?

Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL) in Buffalo, New York

The IEP is indeed very important! In fact, mine is still important in college. When my university was looking for proper accommodations to give me, they asked me for my IEP as a basis upon which to formulate accommodations. In addition to going to school, doing my independent advocacy work, and hanging out with friends, I also volunteer at the local Independent Living Center. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 specifies that Centers for Independent Living, or CILs as they are also called, shall serve to benefit the disabled population all over the United States. Mary’s independent living center should probably have an educational advocate, or at least caseworkers who can help her. I know this because the center where I work has an educational advocate, but it also has a number of caseworkers assigned to individuals. However, CILs are only obligated to serve people as far as is mandated by law, and although some of them serve people beyond the requirements of the law, that is up to their discretion. If Mary is having an issue with not getting adequate services from her local CIL, there is always a grievance process to follow at that center. I hope that this advice helps a little bit.

Socialization is important for anyone, but even more so for someone who is autistic. It appears, if one were judging by your social networking sites, that you’re a very social person, yet you’ve stated that you’ve only really had a few close friends, and that occurred fairly recently. Would you share with us how you achieved and continue to work to maintain your social life?

Alec Frazier with some of his friends at the Buffalo Zoo, including from left to right: Amanda Gollhardt, Britt Cherry, Sebastiano Spurio, Megan Krug, Marcus Cherry, and Todd Vaarwerk. 

Alec has come up with a perfect description for this photo:

When I look at this photo I see people. White people, black people, fuzzy people, smooth people, gay people, straight people, men people, women people, neurotypical people, neurodiverse people, standing people, wheeled people. I see humanity. I see my friends!

Until relatively recently in my life, I did not have much of a social life. I did go to common interest groups such as comic book clubs in order to socialize with people. The massive wealth of friends I have right now started with four people. I first met them at a comic book club, Visions Comic Art Group in Buffalo, New York. By now, we’re so close that we are like siblings. Sebastiano is quirky like me, but in a different fashion. He is a genius and I love him like a brother. Megan gets business done, and is very supportive. Amanda is cute and fun-loving. Marcus is always happy and great with technology. These friends are, by now, also my family. The key was making these friends. I met them through a common interest group, as mentioned, and the next step was to actually ask them if I could hang out with them. For myself and other autistic individuals, that takes a great deal of courage. Draw from within yourself, and find that courage to ask people if you can spend time with them. You’ll be glad you did!

I spend a lot of time sharing information on disability etiquette. In my head, these things should be common sense, but not everyone realizes that what they are saying or doing is condescending or negative. One of those things is the “Isn’t he Inspiring” mindset people have when viewing an individual with a disability. While the knee jerk reaction to someone with a disability doing something the general public might see as monumental based on their perception of the person, that kind of reaction can be hurtful to the person with a disability. Can you tell my readers why it’s important for you to just be seen as “Alec” and not as an inspirational super-hero who makes huge accomplishments, despite his limitations?

I have a relatively simple answer for that. Ironically, it is that I am not “just Alec”. Everybody on the planet, myself included, is three things. We are all human. We share the wonderful, awesome experience of living in this existence. That is our primary identity. Secondly, we are all ourselves. We are all unique individuals who, although all human, have wonderful individual characteristics. Tertiary to any of that is any other identity, such as being gay, or disabled, or black, or Roman Catholic, or basically anything else. Remember this: We are human first, ourselves second, and any other identity is incidental to that.

This concludes our second installment of my guest interview with Alec. Please join us September 24, when Alec shares information on assistive technology, breaking barriers, neurodiversity and the business he has established where he utilizes his many talents and achievements to assist others.

Friday, September 12, 2014

High White Count, the chronicle of one family's longest day.

September is an awareness month for so many things...  some of them I've recently shared, Thyroid Cancer Awareness, Suicide Prevention, and Spinal Cord Injury, the latter something I talk about constantly not only because it's a subject I write about, but because it's been a huge part of my life long career. 

Today, though, I want to help raise awareness for another cause, one that is progressing by leaps and bounds in the area of research because of the generous contributions that have been made. Just a few years ago, a diagnosis of leukemia was a death sentence, but thanks to research, many blood cancer stories are ones of success- stories of triumph, of survival.

Yesterday, in recognition of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, my friend, Born shared a story about Blood Cancer and how it's personally touched her family.

High White Count, a collaborative effort, written by Born and her son chronicles the longest day of their lives. (She refers to it as the longest day of his life, but if you're a mom, you know the drill- stuff like this is never a solo act.) 

I've spent so many of my own hours in the hospital ER with my mother, waiting for a room and  for labs to come back; trying, but failing, to shut out the overwhelming sensory stimulation of sick and injured people, acrid odors (ER coffee included), being disappointed by the lack of proper food, (I'm diabetic- you'd think a hospital would have a vending machine with healthy snacks- a pack of peanuts or sunflower seeds would suffice, crackers would be nice- encountering beef jerky once was like discovering a hidden treasure.) Being shuffled around by the hustle and bustle of workers coming in and out but never having answers... Born's story played out like a film reel being projected in my mind, and down in the corner I imagined a digital clock like the one in the television show, Twenty Four as each second passed by. 

Born is an author, a silly, wonderful storyteller who always makes her readers smile, so this piece was different, this mother wearing her heart on her sleeve. I've interacted with Born, superficially over the course of a few years. I don't know her nearly as well as her other 1500+ Facebook followers probably do, but I sensed something was different this summer, in the tone of her posts, the reactions from her friends and now I understand why.

Born's story resonated with me on a personal level, as well; because of a blood disorder, I've spent a huge amount of my summer in the hematology/oncology department of my own hospital, being poked and prodded; offering up enough vials of blood for testing that they load them into a bowl before we start. 

No, I don't have a blood cancer, but two of my grandparents did, as did my grandmother's sister. For all three of them, the diagnosis was a very short death sentence, leaving my mother orphaned before she was three, and leaving my dad to support his mother and siblings at the age of sixteen, so I can appreciate how important it is for research to move forward.

Yes, this piece was written to support the cause of raising not only awareness, but funds for research into the many forms of blood cancer, as well. Born and her family are not only sharing their story, they're taking it one step further; for each donation that is made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Born's family will make a matching contribution. more information can be found at the end of High White Count.

If you're unable to donate financially, there are so many non-monetary ways you can help make a difference as well; volunteer for a bake sale or a car wash in your own community, share this story, share your own if you have one. Every effort counts, no matter how great or how small. Thank you.

I'll leave you now with Born and her son, as they share their story. 

Their longest day.
post signature

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Questions for Alec, an Interview on Living Life with Autism.

Hello Everyone.

It’s my pleasure to introduce my friend, Alec Frazier. Hello Alec, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to sit down with us today.

Alec Frazier

Hello everyone! It’s great to speak with you! Thank you, Denise, for interviewing me!

As I mentioned on my Facebook post, Alec is autistic and has a number of other diagnoses as well. My career experiences have exposed me to a wealth of disability related information, but I’ll be the first to admit that my experience with conditions on the autism spectrum is very limited. I had questions for Alec and thought you might too, and he’s graciously agreed to answer them.

I have the following diagnoses, which shape my life a great deal:

Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT)

This is a disorder of the blood vessels, which gives me higher risk of stroke, nosebleed, hemorrhage, and other related difficulties. It also means that I am more susceptible to infection. HHT used to be called Osler Weber Rendu Syndrome. It is usually hereditary, through the female line in the family, and my mother has it as does her aunt. I found out that I had it after I got a stroke. I was rushed to the hospital, where they caught it on time, and have since altered my life accordingly. It was found that I had three lesions in my brain, and one in my lung. I have had brain surgery to glue one of the lesions that this is left on my brain. This actually took only about an hour, in which the doctors inserted a catheter into my groin, sending it up through a blood vessel and into my brain. I actually felt the catheter moving in my brain and asked them if that was what it was. They said, “Yes, now shut up!” I know that I will need additional surgeries to correct the other lesions. For the remaining lesions in my brain, they will not risk gluing again. Instead, they will use gamma radiation.

Hip Dysplasia

I was born in a breach birth, with my bottom coming out first in my head last. This caused, or at least contributed to my having Hip Dysplasia. What this meant for me is that the pelvic material was there, but the ball and socket joint was not formed. Prior to my birth, this would have meant youth in a wheelchair with later life being spent with successive artificial hip transplants. However, in the month prior to my birth, two Japanese babies had successfully had a new procedure done. Others were not so lucky, and died. I was the first person in North America to have the procedure done successfully. The new procedure entailed having several operations and other procedures done to electrostatically stimulate bone growth into forming the ball and socket joints. I then spent a year in a full body cast, and another year in traction. It is safe to say, that if I were born any earlier or at a different hospital I would not have the ability to walk today.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Formerly known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction, many people have it, especially people on the autism spectrum, but few know that it has a name. Sensory Processing Disorder entails having higher than average awareness of input from one’s senses. Sounds are louder. Smells are stronger. Tastes are more acute. Textures are more noticeable. Visuals are more detailed. People with Sensory Processing Disorder are often also much more susceptible to sudden sensory input. This can make life distracting to say the least, and very difficult in extreme cases. To me, this means that extremely large crowds can be troublesome. Although I am able to sit in large classes of almost 500 people, if those people were partying and making a lot of noise it would be difficult. Flickering fluorescent lights are a problem for me, as is sudden touching. Make no mistake though, I love to give and receive hugs!

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

People with ADD are very easily distracted, with our attentions drawn elsewhere. Sudden occurrences or interesting objects can easily distract us from previous involvements. One ramification this has for me is that reading is extremely difficult, since I am so easily distracted. As a result, I get my school books in digital format, so they can be read to me while I am also doing a secondary task to occupy my mind. There are many teachers and professors will tell you that a student who is doing work on a computer in class is easily distracted from their lecture. Because of my ADD, being on a computer in class actually helps me to pay attention by focusing my loose attentions elsewhere.

Dysgraphia and Digital Atonia

Dysgraphia is to writing as dyslexia is to reading. Whereas dyslexia is a disorder hampering understanding of the ordering of letters and words, dysgraphia is a disorder hampering the proper placement of letters and words while writing. Many people believe improper placement when writing is a symptom of dyslexia, when in fact it is dysgraphia. This is because dysgraphia is not nearly as well-known as dyslexia. Digital Atonia is a lack of muscle development in the hands leading to poor eye-brain-hand coordination. To counter my dysgraphia and digital atonia, I dictate papers on Dragon NaturallySpeaking software provided by the Nuance Corporation. I am able to train it to recognize my voice, and I am able to speak to it naturally, while it transcribes my speech on various programs such as Microsoft Word or Facebook.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression. It is not called that anymore, but unfortunately many people do not recognize this fact. Bipolar disorder entails having periods of high, happy feelings, and periods of low, unhappy feelings. People have a right not to take medication, and I am against radical amounts of medication. But for me, moderate amounts of medication have helped with a number of my diagnoses, including the high-low swings of bipolar disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD is about exactly that: obsessions with particular topics and compulsions to do specific things. There is a misconception that OCD is almost completely about the compulsion part. This is not true. For me, my obsessions involve focusing in detail on various topics, such as architecture, government, photography, and Star Trek. You’ll notice that these obsessions are also hobbies. In my world, if I am going to have obsessions, then they might as well be fun! For me, compulsions have been about such things as straightening out the cricks in my neck and doing things favoring the right side of my body.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of Autism, is not a disorder but a form of neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is a recognized form of diversity, entailing diversity of the forms of the mind. It is as natural as diversity of skin color and sexual orientation. It is also inherent as is gender and religious affiliation. Asperger’s Syndrome is a form of autism which is no longer officially recognized by the diagnostic index, but it should be. Instead, all formerly recognized forms of autism are lumped together under the title Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In reality, there are vast differences between various types of autism. Asperger’s Syndrome has traditionally been called a high functioning form of autism. Those of us in the autistic rights movements are trying to reject the terms high and low functioning as those terms have their origins in the institutional setting where they were used to discriminate against various types of patients. Instead of using the terms high and low functioning, people should just describe the person in question. Like people with all forms of autism, people with Asperger’s Syndrome, I have a tough time interacting socially, and can have mood swings and a degree of emotional variation from time to time. Over the 28 years of my life, I had become to a large degree able to socialize with other people in a structured setting. Therefore I have a tendency to find friends in clubs and organizations of like-minded people. Interpersonal relationships between myself and other individuals tend to be more difficult. I do get pretty emotional at times, but I do my best to keep this in check on a social level.

I made Alec’s acquaintance through a common bond. We were both readers of “Little Green and Easy Bella,” a Twilight Fanfiction story written by our mutual friend, Betti Gefecht.

I adore “Little Green,” he’s an endearing character with multiple layers, one of those layers being autism. When I read the story I felt like I was seeing the world through his eyes, the story is a sensory experience for me that I don’t often discover reading fiction. I can’t describe it other than to say it is just so much more…

Alec, what drew you to Little Green?

I was drawn to Little Green for a number of reasons. Betti lives in Germany, a nation that I adore in part because my mother is from that land. I also enjoy that country because of its liberal political, economic, and social tradition, as well as all of the wonderful culture and history in that nation. Betti is also very creative, quite artistically inclined, and very loving. She is also very crazy, in a good way! After all, you have to be crazy to live on this planet! When I started reading her fiction, Betti said that she had never met a person with autism, but had heard a great deal about it. This is interesting, because I am sure that a majority of the Western human population would say this. It is doubly interesting because I am sure that a majority of the Western human population has actually met and is even friends with an autistic person. Those of us on the higher end of the spectrum tend to slip by is just odd or quirky.

I then proceeded to befriend Betti, and tell her a little bit about what it is like living with autism. She was very eager and willing to learn! Many autistic activists believe that only a person with autism should be able to write about a person with autism. I think that that is just silly! Many men write about women! Many African-Americans write about white people! In fact, the best of writers prove their mettle by writing very well about people whom they have nothing in common with. I do believe that autistic writers should be more prevalent, but I also do not believe that autistic writers who write poorly should be coddled.

Betti Gefecht with Alec Frazier in Stade, Germany.

I went to visit Betti at her wonderful home in Bützfleth, outside of Stade, in the Lower Saxon land of Germany. Her home has been built by her husband, Liber Freeman, and she has designed much of the decoration. It even has a giant sign outside saying that it is her house! Betti used to be a quite popular musician, and has also made paintings, dolls, and other artwork. Freeman currently produces music and makes the most beautiful guitars on the planet. I spent fifteen minutes with him, and my autdar (like gaydar, but for autistic people) was going crazy. I do believe that he is autistic, and that that is part of why he is such a multi-talented creator! So although Betti had claimed that she had never met somebody with autism, it turns out that she has actually been living most of her life in a very loving relationship with an autistic genius. The two of them have an absolutely wonderful world together! Everybody should be as lucky in life as they have been! I have since adopted them as my Aunt and Uncle.

The Edwards in the Fanfiction fandom come in many incarnations. While Betti’s Edward is autistic, mine has a spinal cord injury. Do you have a favorite “fic” that features a Twi-character whose circumstances help bring awareness to others about a specific issue?

I am certainly a proponent of the way that Little Green and Easybella promotes autism awareness. Your own fiction was phenomenal in its promotion of people with various disabilities. I am also a fan of various fictions promoting successful character development for people who have formerly been bullied. I like high school reunion fictions, and fictions where someone has come back from a long time living somewhere else after redefining themselves. I was bullied quite a bit as a kid, and have now made quite a name for myself in my field. Seeing fictions where people are able to prove successfully that they have gone somewhere in life is a true wonder to behold. I myself have accomplished just that; I recently went to my high school’s ten year reunion, and many people told me that they were thoroughly impressed with how far I have gotten since then! I also like slash fiction, since I am gay and like reading about positive gay role models. So in short, my favorite fiction that helps bring awareness to something is Betti’s Little Green and Easybella.

You recently endorsed Amber Johnson’s book, Puddle Jumping which was recently released, as you’re doing with my story, Impact. What does that endorsement mean for potential readers?

The back and front covers of Amber L. Johnson's  Puddle Jumping, with Alec Frazier’s endorsement on the back cover along with his website. Amber L. Johnson, 2014. 

My endorsement of Puddle Jumping should be read as twofold. First of all, it is a reaffirmation on the part of an autistic advocate and self-advocate that the book in question is indeed representative of the real life and world of an autistic person. Please bear in mind that a number of more radical people in the autistic activism world had attacked Amber Johnson for her portrayal of Colton Neely as an autistic individual. They claimed that they were not like Colton, and therefore the story was hogwash. I disagree, and would like to cite the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder with a great variety of people in it. One of those people could very well be Colton Neely.

The second factor in my endorsement, which plays a part in any endorsement that I make, is the fact that I am someone with disabilities representing the disabled population, and the advocacy movement of that population, giving my full-hearted approval to a book that deserves notice. I do not claim to speak for the whole disabled population, or even the whole autistic population. I do, however, claim to speak as a person with a disability, which happens to be autism who appreciates the said book, and its endeavors to represent those populations. The endorsement says that I would recommend it to others with an interest in disability, autism, advocacy, and a realistic portrayal of those things. I cannot make the entire disabled or autistic population appreciate something, because that is up to the individuals themselves. Nonetheless, I can encourage it. That is what Amber or anyone gets out of my endorsement. What I get out of the endorsement is increased name recognition for my firm, Autistic Reality, as well as a recognition that these endeavors are the kinds of things I look favorably upon.

You’ve done some writing of your own. Would you mind telling my readers about your literary review and why this is a project so close to your heart?

Copies of the first edition of Without Fear: The First Autistic Superhero on sale at the world’s only Museum of disABILITY History in Buffalo, New York.

My literary review profiles the first positively, realistically portrayed autistic superhero, Tim Urich as the Daredevil of the future as written by Brian Michael Bendis for Marvel Comics. Urich’s appearances take place in two comic book story arcs, Daredevil: Wake Up, and Daredevil: End of Days. I have done the literary review from a disability studies point of view. It has been for sale at a number of comic book conventions and conferences, including Ithacon in Ithaca, New York, Cripping the Comicon in Syracuse, New York, and Free Comic Book Day in Buffalo, New York. I have also given copies to some of my favorite comic book creators, including the legendary writer Roger Stern, and prolific animator Warren Greenwood. I will be giving a copy to the legendary Stan Lee next year. The book is so important to me because it profiles a perfect example of my philosophy of Autistic Reality. The character in the books is shown as living his life with autism, not living an autistic life. A key philosophical point of view of Autistic Reality is that autism should not have to define the individual. Autism is not the main feature of the character in the books, nor should it be. Instead, the books show how the character is living a productive life as an individual, who just so happens to be autistic. In this way, the character is human first, themselves second, and the other identity, autism, is incidental to that.

You are a super hero expert. Who’s your favorite super hero and why? What’s your most memorable super hero moment?  You do public Relations for Visions Comic Art Group, can you tell us a little about that?

A bit of background first. I have been reading comic books of some form or another since I was at least four years old. I started off with Scrooge McDuck comics, and have been reading mainstream superhero comics since shortly thereafter. I have a number of favorite superheroes for different reasons. I like the regular Daredevil, Matt Murdock, because he is the original disabled superhero, being blind and yet extremely powerful with his extra senses and his success in life. I also like Wiccan and Hulkling of the Young Avengers because they are young guys who are gay, madly in love, and save the world on a regular basis. Lastly, I like the original Wildstorm Comics team The Authority, because they actually get stuff done. Imagine a team of superheroes who are not afraid to overthrow governments, kill people, and even take over the United States in order to create a better world. It’s kind of messed up, but it makes for a very interesting read. Please keep in mind that that title is not fit for children.

Alec Frazier’s collection of Northstar comics. The first issue on the top is an extremely rare completely mint edition of the coming-out issue, still in its original bag from 1992. The first issue on the bottom is a limited edition copy of the wedding issue. The remaining issues on the wall are draw your own cover variants of the wedding issue done by a number of artists.

I have two most memorable superhero moments. The first one took place back in 1992, when the superhero Northstar said the words “I am gay!” becoming the first ever superhero to come out of the closet as homosexual. This was courageous, as only a few years earlier it was illegal to do this. There have since been a number of superheroes who have come out as homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, and many other sexual orientations. Northstar himself has gotten married in the meantime.

Alec Frazier’s copy of Daredevil: End of Days #7.

The second moment was in Daredevil: End of Days #7, which premiered on April 17, 2013. In it, the Daredevil of the future takes off his mask, revealing that he is the autistic Tim Urich. It is a watershed moment in comics. In the 1980s, there was an autistic character named Dehman Doosha, also known as Jonny Do, in a team called Psi-Force put out by Marvel Comics. However, the character’s autism was not portrayed correctly at all, and it can be argued therefore that he did not have autism at all. Tim Urich is the very first character to be properly and positively portrayed with autism. Since then, a man named Dave Kot has come out with a series called Face Value Comics, which heavily emphasizes the autism of the main character. I personally do not agree with this point of view, as autism should not have to define us on the autism spectrum, but I encourage any who are interested to look into Face Value Comics.

Creators at the first meeting of the current incarnation of Visions Comic Art Group. 
Emil Novak, Sr. is on the right.

As I mentioned, I have always been involved with comics. In 2004 or 2005, I joined the oldest continuously active comic book club in the country, and possibly the world, the Comic Book Club of Ithaca (CBCI), in Ithaca, New York. I started cohosting a number of their conventions, and when I moved to Buffalo, I started cohosting Buffalo Comicon. I also take a number of photos at those conventions. There is a multitalented genius of a businessman in Buffalo, New York named Emil Novak, Sr. He runs Queen City Bookstore, the local comic book store, and he also runs Buffalo Comicon. In the 1980s, he started a group called Visions Comic Art Group, a group of local artists, writers, and other artistic talent to create comics right here in Buffalo. He recently restarted the group in its current incarnation. I have been privileged to be their official publicist and photographer from the beginning of the current incarnation. We have since put out an anthology over one hundred pages long, and will be coming out with another one in October. They have also helped me with the printing of my book. I owe a lot to Emil Novak, Sr. for mentoring me through the creative process.

Patti has asked- If your life was a movie, what actor would portray you and why?

I would probably go with having Jude Law play me. His hair is naturally similar to mine, although he often wears a hairpiece for his roles. He is also not averse to packing on the pounds for a role. If he could do that the same way that Christian Bale did for American Hustle, that would be great. Jude Law is also known for intellectual roles, of which my life certainly would fit the bill. Yes, he is over a decade older me, but I would want the majority of my movie to be set ten years from now, when I am more established. He also does very well with glasses. In fact, he played Karenin in Anna Karenina, which if you subtract the beard, resembles an older me quite well.  However, I am not only intellectual, but also a very fun person with a great sense of humor and a number of quirks. If the movie were to take place about thirty years down the road, I would have preferred for the late James Gandolfini to have the role. Although Jude Law best embodies me as an intellectual, Gandolfini would be best playing me as a fun guy. Overall, I would probably want Christopher Heyerdahl to narrate the story of my life in the voice of Marcus of the Volturi from Twilight. The life he would be narrating would probably not fit that voice, but there is so much authority in Marcus’s tone that I demand it!

This ends our first installment of Alec's interview.  Join us next week for Alec's advice on travel, transportation and education and to learn about the buffalo who travels the world!

Thank you for joining us, hope to see you next time.