This season, please give to the AutismBC Support Their Future Fund to help empower, support, and connect the autism community today.
“Sharing my story could help others”
My name is Lucas Gates. I am an autism advocate and a co-host on the Pulse Autism Podcast. My journey as an autistic individual began when I was diagnosed at age 7, right before going into grade 1. I knew that I was a bit different. I was a timid child but, I have cracked out of that shell now. In Grade 8, I was labelled as the worst behaved student in the whole school. Exactly one year later, I received a standing ovation from my cohorts when I was recognized for being the most improved student in Grade 9!
I became my own advocate when I left high school. It can take a while to learn what platforms you can use for advocacy. When I started working at the Pacific Autism Family Network, it all came together for me.
My autism journey is not just mine. I feel that there has been a lot of influence from the people around me. Leaders don’t happen overnight: you learn, grow, and see the people around you. I have learned so much from my mom, who gave me the platform to start my journey as an advocate.
Supporting the autism community
I support and help other autistic people by being here to listen and to help engage with the wider community. I became a young leader in the autistic community just by being myself. Just by being honest with who I am, what I know, and what I learn, I’ve been able to help those who feel lost or nervous about their identity or how they can contribute back to society.
I believe sharing my story could help others. I want to give back. All the years I’ve been growing up with my diagnosis, I want to give people more optimism from all the pessimism that’s been going on in the world right now. I know life might be a pain, my grandfather told me this many years ago and I still hold this true — Everything will be okay, just enjoy this beautiful world.
I now actively share my views and story on podcast as well as social media. I have faced challenges as a self-advocate as there will always be different opinions, and sometimes people will not agree. But again, people are entitled to their opinion, and all views are valid. We should be working towards a common good. I started working closely with advocacy groups and I work to promote positive-advocacy. I try not to focus on the negative or to bring others down. It’s important to have autistic adults as leaders to help bridge the divide so we can build a common ground between opinions and develop mutual conclusions.
“Just by being free to be honest with what I know and what I learn, I’ve been able to help those who feel lost or nervous about being honest about who they are.”
Inspiring future autistic adult leaders
Future autistic adults in BC are bound to excel as leaders. My hope is that they have the opportunity to prove that. Learning, through the resources they have now, is crucial so they can relay that knowledge back from their point of view. I believe that the neurodiverse community remains a widely untapped talent pool with a strong work ethic and good attention to detail. I have complete faith that the next generation will power through, way past even my generation, to achieve greatness.
“To bring up the next generation of young autistic leaders we simply need to be honest, we need to be frank, and we need to listen.”
We should also give time and opportunities to individuals who may not have their own voice or ability to learn to advocate for themselves and be leaders. People communicate in many ways. You can use a tablet to voice your concerns with text to speech. It’s not all about verbal communication. We are lucky there are many forms of communication. Some people use sign language. Stay positive and lift each other up!
To bring up the next generation of young autistic leaders we simply need to be honest, we need to be frank, and we need to listen. That’s all there is to it. Cooperation and collaboration are the keys to building a society that benefits everyone.
Donation to AutismBC
Why should people donate to AutismBC? Simple, we listen. I’m proud to confirm my status as the first Board Member in AutismBC’s history who is a community member. Having representation behind the scenes and taking feedback seriously matters so much when serving the neurodiverse community.
“I have complete faith that the next generation will power through, way past even my generation, to achieve greatness.”
Watch Lucas’ 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!