April 2012 - Inspiring Autism Story

Christian Woempner

CHWO

The "Inspirational Autism Stories" program was designed to honor someone with autism from the San Diego community. Selected honorees stand as an inspiration to others with autism, to parents with a newly diagnosed child, as well as to people without the disorder. Individuals selected for this honor participate in a live interview or fill out a questionnaire that asks questions such as:

  • "What are you most proud of?"
  • "What would you say to younger people just learning about their diagnosis for the first time?"

Our new honoree is selected and responses are posted on the ACE website to inspire the people who read the stories of success.

What are you most proud of?

I have not only obtained my high school diploma but also have an Associate’s degree in Computer Aided Design and Drafting.

Do you have any special skills?

I excel in memory. I am very good at learning formulas and equations from the classes I have taken and am able to recall many sport events and stats. For example, I am able to recall many Olympic events and who won in each category. I am also very good at building and crafting things with my own hands such as block designing.

How has having a diagnosis of autism helped you in life?

At a very young age I was not able to talk and could only make sounds in which no one could understand what I meant or wanted. Therefore, once I was diagnosed with autism I was able to be referred to services in which I would receive different kinds of therapy such as speech therapy. At a young age, because of my diagnosis, I was also eligible to be placed into a school known as Excelior Academy where speech therapists worked with me on a daily basis. Learning to talk not only allowed me to feel more confident but also engage in conversations and make friends.

How has having a diagnosis of autism made your life more challenging?

Unlike many others, I was not capable of speaking at an early age when everyone else could. As a child I was also very restless and would become easily aggravated if something was not done the way I wanted. Luckily I now take medications that ameliorate my aggression.

What are your favorite things?

I love the beach. I have attempted to surf and am not very good at it but love being in the water. I like to watch a lot of different sports, such as baseball and basketball. On my spare time I take the MTS bus to constructions sites to observe more closely the construction taking place and the craftsmanship behind the construction. I get a lot of reward seeing how things shape and form together resulting in the productivity of construction.

What would you say to younger people just learning about their diagnosis for the first time?

When learning how to speak, practice on saying the words aloud frequently. Converse more with your parents and distance yourself from things you can easily become fixated on. Read as much as you can. If you are prescribed medications, learn more about how they can better facilitate your behaviors and emotions. Take whichever skills you have and put them to a good use. Learn how to believe more in yourself and try new things.

What are your hopes and dreams?

I would love to work as a civil engineer one day. In addition, I would like to write a book/autobiography that could serve as a recipe for autism and help other individuals diagnosed with autism relate with the many challenges I have encountered in life. I would also like to become a better surfer…