Skip to main content

News and Knowledge

OAR is excited to launch this new interview series for the Scholars’ Society. This inaugural interview is with previous OAR scholar, Jory Fleming.
1. What does Autism Acceptance Month mean to you? What Does Acceptance Feel Like to You?

Logistical tasks are one of the challenges I tend to face, and time is one element that doesn’t always mesh well in my brain. I use my calendar to keep on track, but its linear nature can be confusing. I hope that acceptance would bridge many months, and hopefully all of the possible points in that linear view of time. It is hard for me to pin down what acceptance feels like, but I hope to not have to think about it, if that makes sense. I tend to notice the absence of acceptance more, if that makes sense.

2. Does/did your school do anything to recognize, support, or celebrate autism acceptance
month? If so, what does your school do?

I am not aware, but that may well be a reflection of how I process things. I am always interested in details and events, but sometimes struggle to process them in a timely manner or to keep up with what is happening in my local environment.

3. What do the terms, “self-determination” and “empowerment” mean to you?

I think that they can be connected. One of my favorite hobbies is bird-watching, and I have always been inspired by feathers and flight. Sometimes the differences in my memory or thinking can feel like taking flight, while in other situations there could be challenges such as environmental stimuli or the difficulty I face in processing language. These moments of flight remind me that I can make a difference. And the people I am close to, family and friends, have played a huge role in taking those journeys with me and empowering me to flourish and fly.

4. Do you feel generally accepted as an autistic person?

I have faced accepting environments as well as the opposite. While I am unsure what the right percentage is in my experiences, I am optimistic that we can all play a role in changing this percentage for the people in their lives and communities. Acceptance is not a given, but it can be a possibility that we can collectively mould and make real.

5. What would you like others to know in order to better support autistic individuals?

Every autistic individual is unique. While this can perhaps be challenging, I believe this conundrum applies to everyone as we are all unique expressions of what it means to be human. The journey to meeting someone new can be a joyous opportunity, and I would like other people to know that being open to someone can lead to an encounter they might not have had otherwise. I think that opening yourself to seeing the world differently by interacting with autistic people in your life and community can be a way to show support.

Jory enjoys speaking with others about his way of seeing the world. As a young child, Jory struggled with his speech. Once he did start to speak, he knew what he was trying to communicate, but his words rarely made sense to anyone else. Jory’s debut book vividly describes what it is like to live in a world designed for neurotypical brains when his is decidedly not. Instead of dwelling on his limitations, Jory invites those who inhabit the neurotypical world to better understand their own. 

Jory has spoken with diverse audiences and is currently accepting speaking engagement requests.

He has consulted with firms at the nexus of strategy and neurodiversity and is a member of Autism Community Ventures’ Neurodivergent Leaders Advisory Board.