Celebrating Our Unique Abilities
By Adam Farris, Ability Shirts
Hello, my name is Adam. I was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in 1994 at the age of six. Later, in July of 2012, I was diagnosed with a form of autism called pervasive developmental disorder. As a child, I didn’t understand Tourette’s syndrome and would ask myself, “What it that?” My conditions were confusing and frustrating, but they were also illuminating and life-shaping. I share my story in the hopes that people with so-called disabilities will read it and realize that they, too, can achieve great things.
Early Support Sheds Positive Light on Distinctive Abilities
My father brought me up to advocate for myself. He took me to public places like the movie theaters, and out to dinner or lunch at restaurants. I would have tics, involuntary sounds and movements that I can't control, which are the most noticeable symptom of Tourette's syndrome. In the past, my tics took the form of loud hooting and shouting noises. It kind of hurt to go into a restaurant or any quiet place and have an outbreak of tics and know that people were staring at me. They made comments. But, when that happened, my father taught me to talk to them about Tourette's syndrome and help them understand that I am just like anyone one else with the ability to do anything anybody else can. That is what made me into the man I am today.
I went to the Monarch School from 2001-2006 where I gained confidence in myself. When I was in woodworking class, I asked my teacher if I could get on a saw. He said I could try it out. So I got on a saw that made very precise lines, and my hands stopped shaking all together. I realized then that if I could do this, I could do anything.
Because of my autism, I basically had no friends and was getting kicked out of places left and right. My social skills were so bad that I could not keep a job. I couldn’t stay in a restaurant or a business without being barred. When I was diagnosed with autism in 2012, I had the chance to move to North Carolina and went to a transitional living program. There, I learned to have much better social skills and worked on my life skills. I am still trying to learn to be independent and one day that will happen.
Maybe None of Us Are Really ‘Disabled’
Look at me now. See how far I have come from 2012 to 2016. Some people might say that's a long time; I say that’s just a short time. Now I do have friends, I do have a job, and I can stay in a business or restaurant as long as I want to. For the past year, I have maintained a job at Walmart. I thank my family and friends for all that they do for me.
I am also the president of Ability Shirts, an organization that sells awareness products—some of which are handmade or made by individuals with unique abilities. At the end of each year, we donate part of our sales to a local, deserving nonprofit organization.
In my work as a motivational speaker, I reach my audience through sharing my real life experiences, my journey and my ability to maintain uniqueness. If you would like me for your next event, visit www.adamfarris.net or email email@example.com.
I am 28 years old, and I don’t think of myself as disabled because I have been able to accomplish so much. Maybe none of us are really “disabled,” maybe we are all just different people with unique abilities. The world needs to understand that all of us are alike. And if you believe in yourself and put your mind to it, you can do many great things with your unique ability.
About the Author:
Adam Farris has Tourette syndrome and autism, is a motivational speaker, leads a non-profit organization and works diligently at Wal-Mart. He strongly believes that someone’s so-called disability is actually their own unique ability. Visit Ability Shirts at www.abilityshirts.org and find out more about Adam at www.adamfarris.net.
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