Support Their Future: Jake Anthony
“Acceptance is saying ‘I Care'”
My autism journey
I work as the Program Ambassador for AutismBC and was diagnosed back in 1997, at the age of four. I was also diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, clinical depression, ADHD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I had a tough first part of my journey with autism. The following year, I started elementary school. Twenty-five years ago, there were no supports for children with disabilities of any kind in the school system. I was fortunate to have a mother who strongly advocated on my behalf so I would receive a one-on-one education assistant, and I was one of the first students in BC to receive an Individual Education Plan (IEP). When I was five, I began taking acting classes, which really taught me how to connect with other people, read emotions and body language, as well as understand reciprocal relationships. Learning these skills has made it possible for me to have strong, meaningful relationships with others. It also led to me having a really fun career as a professional actor for over a decade.
Supporting the autism community
I’ve had the great pleasure of being an advocate for people with disabilities for fifteen years. I’ve tried to use my lived experience as a person on the spectrum to educate others and raise awareness about autism as much as possible. In my role with AutismBC, I’ve worked to help engage and empower other people on the spectrum to share their lived experiences, challenges, and, most importantly, their strengths. I previously served on Autism Canada’s National ASD Advisory Committee from 2016 until its dissolution in 2020. I’ve also been a guest lecturer for the Capilano University Applied Behavior Analysis-Autism Program since 2017, where I speak to students who are completing their Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credentials about how to best support neurodivergent clients.
“The only way we can create a more connected, inclusive, and accessible society is for people of all parts of it to work together to make that possible.”
Acceptance is saying I care
Part of caring about other people is accepting and appreciating them for who they are. This means not expecting other people to change because they think, talk, believe or do things differently than you do. Acceptance is embracing people for being themselves, not who you want them to be. Without accepting people as they are, we can’t show them the full care and support that they need.
Becoming a leader in the autistic community
The key person who helped me become who I am today is my mother. Before I found my voice to advocate for myself, she was always my greatest supporter and made sure I had what I needed. Whether it was a full-time education assistant in a school or ensuring that I had child autism funding. When I got older, Mom taught me how to fight for my own rights and needs, always giving me encouragement along the way. She taught me that every individual’s voice matters, and that one person can make a significant difference in the lives of others. Through her, I learned how to stand up not only for myself but also for other people who might need a bit more support.
“Without accepting people as they are, we can’t show them the full care and support that they need.”
The importance of young autistic leaders
As people on the autism spectrum, we can offer the rest of the world a better understanding of how our minds work, the way we see the world, the different ways in which we communicate, as well as our strengths and challenges. We’re the ones who are best able to say what supports we need in order to live happy, fulfilled lives as individuals on the spectrum. Since the community’s made up of people of all abilities, cultures, and experiences, all of our voices have to lead the way for change. The only way we can create a more connected, inclusive, and accessible society is for people of all parts of it to work together to make that possible.
In order to bring up more young autistic leaders, it’s important for AutismBC to continue hiring more individuals who have lived experience with autism, as well as including them in the current and future direction of the organization. This could be connecting further with autistic individuals to share their stories or having more autistic representation on the Board of Directors.
“Acceptance is embracing people for being themselves, not who you want them to be.”
The futures of autistic adults in BC
I hope that more autistic adults will come forward to share their experiences and stories about being on the spectrum. Autism is different for each person who lives with it, so every story that’s told is unique and equally important to be heard. I hope that the power of their increased advocacy pushes the provincial and federal governments to provide supports for adults, as they do for young people under the age of 18. I want to see more autistic adults become mentors for younger people on the spectrum. Having older autistic individuals who had been in my shoes, providing me with peer support was so helpful as I was growing up.
Why should people donate to AutismBC?
AutismBC is an organization that works hard to provide helpful resources and information that people on the spectrum, as well as their families can count on. Our small but mighty team is passionate about supporting the autism community across BC.
Watch Jake’s Interview Here:
At AutismBC we strive to support autistic leaders in the community and amplify their voices.
This takes programs that will empower young autistic people, and help them make gains that will support their future to be the leaders and mentors of tomorrow.
We’ve launched the SUPPORT THEIR FUTURE FUND to ensure that we can continue to provide autistic people with programs and supports needed across their lifespan, now and into the future. Your donation extends to reach autistic people throughout the province. It ensures AutismBC will be there for them with the programs and supports they need now and into the future. Programs like AutismBC Goes, AutismBC Meets, AutismBC Talks, and the AutismBC Online Resource Blog that shares important information, creates awareness and connects people throughout BC.
You can make a lasting difference with your donation this holiday season. Please give to the Support Their Future Fund today!
On behalf of everyone at AutismBC, thank you!
Support Their Future: Jake's interview
Jake Anthony is the Program Ambassador for AutismBC and an advocate for people with disabilities. He would like to see more autistic adults become mentors for younger people on the spectrum. “The only way we can create a more connected, inclusive, and accessible society is for people of all parts of it to work together to make that possible.”
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