I am now in my thirties and am doing well, but to get to this point took a long journey.

As a infant and toddler, I had they typical signs of Autism (repetitive behavior, non-verbal for a time, etc.), although I didn’t receive a diagnosis because I “grew out of those symptoms.”

I entered Elementary School and was OK in Kindergarten and somewhat slid by that, but enter first grade and a disasters storm approached. I was put on Ritalin and given the common diagnosis at the time, ADHD. Meanwhile I had a host of problems until the third grade I was put into a emotional support classroom in another school in my home school district, where for the most part I did well but still struggled, at which point my parents had had me at many professionals and we finally landed at one provider in my hometown.
I received in-home services and when I first met one of the professionals, they knew I was on the spectrum. Ironically, I ran from my house that first meeting and she went chasing after me to get me back. That first week after our session, she made 16 calls on my behalf, one of those being to the University of Pittsburgh, where I would later be enrolled in a research study. At the first meeting there it was determined in a matter of minutes that I had Asperger’s Syndrome.

As I continued with the study, I was also in Junior High, which was a very poor mix along with puberty for me. I would be suspended for a host of times my two years there. I spent a summer including my 15th birthday in and out of psychiatric hospitals, at my last hospitalization, my parents wanted me to have a long time placement before returning back to their care.

I spent nine months in a Residential Treatment Facility that my mother and a special professional fought tooth and nail to have me placed in. The local County Office wanted me placed on the eastern seaboard or across the state, but my mom didn’t let down her fight. Through this endeavor I had the opportunity to attend a different High School due to being in a different school district, with the skills of the residential facility, I thrived there. But on the dark side, my parents had serious concerns about me returning to their house and would it be a safe environment for them, my sister and I. My mom even spent some time away from my dad for a bit but they reconciled and they have continually been married over 40 years. I later returned back home and finished the school term at that other district.

Returning back to my Home School District, I would enter the Senior High School, however because the other district I was in the year before did not offer emotional support and I excelled in Learning Support, that was the choice at my home high school. While my Sophomore year had some bumps to it and had extra accommodations, I no longer had most of those accommodations in my Junior or Senior Year, in fact I was in many electives including in the Business, Home Economics and Industrial Arts Departments. My Junior Year, I was asked by one of my Learning Support Teachers to be a statistician on the Swim Team she was a coach of. I loved the extra hours after school and she made EVERYONE as part of the team. My senior year, I spent in a host of work experiences, including a grocery store and a economical ministry in my town. Obviously, I graduated High School and did well

Before High School was over, my mother was introduced through her work of a Clubhouse-model day program that I am still at today, however during my high school years, I toured a post-secondary vocational training facility about an hour and a half from my home that specializes in individuals with disabilities. While waiting to attend the school, I attended the Clubhouse where I entered another job through their program for a few months before being accepted at the vocational training school.

At the vocational training school, I picked up on social skills while learning many of the skills I use in my work and on my blog today. I met many people and mentored many in the course of a year of being there along with learning to ride public transportation and intercity passenger rail while residing in the dormitories there before graduating the next spring with honors.

Still not having a driver’s license and not having a job, I landed back at the Clubhouse for a few more years in and out of the same job placement I had prior to going to vocational training. However, something changed, a change in leadership at the Clubhouse facility opened more doors for me. As such I got to attend more networking events and be trained in the model, however the journey was only in its new stage of rebirth.

As the Clubhouse program director was going to seek placements in the community, he landed at what is my current employer. He met who is my supervisor, also a distant Aunt of mine and my CEO. They had known that I was there through other projects I have spoken at and they were very adamant in having me come aboard.

A year had passed and the job became solely mine with the Clubhouse’s Assistance. Later that year, I attended a conference where I heard about a young man who had a similar journey to mine attending college, this I knew that was a goal for me.

I began attending community college part time and did so for the next three years and finally graduated the top of my major and a member of the honor society for community colleges. That same year I was asked by county mental health office to facilitate the mental health stakeholder meetings, being held at our agency. Also at this time, they were transitioning this and other advocacy groups in the county from being county-led to peer-led, a integral movement that I got to be and continue to be a player of in the county I reside.
In the last few years I have been living independently, although I had a setback last year and had to live with my parents for a few months, however I have to say that I am proud to be back on my feet and that the journey is not over yet and we still have things in life to discover.

This is my story.

Mission Statement

Dustin’s Dynasty’s mission is to inspire, motivate and support individuals on the autism spectrum, their families and supporters in finding necessary resources and supports to have a successful life.

Vision Statement

Dustin’s Dynasty envisions that those diagnosed with autism as an inclusive, wide array of abled individuals that can be an asset to the communities they reside and should have the resources at their disposal to attain such.