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An Autistic Champion!

Malcom Harris-Gowdie is a 23 year old award-winning athlete and sports enthusiast. He lives in Port Saint Lucie, Florida and is dedicated to spreading autism awareness through his own story titled 'An Autistic Champion!' 


An interview with a young adult with ASD – March 2013

WHO ARE YOU? My name is Malcom Harris-Gowdie, and I am a 23 year old man with Autism and Cerebral Palsy (which causes a weakness in my left hand and foot).   I currently live in Port Saint Lucie, Florida where I received a Business Management Certificate from Indian River State College on May 5,2011 for completing 24 credits. During this time, I also received awards such as “CCG Member of the Month”, “Special People Award”, and “Outstanding Irsc DECA Member of the Year”. I felt happy and enthusiastic receiving these awards.

HOW DO YOUR DISABILITIES AFFECT YOU?  Autism affects me in many ways because I’m not able to ride a bike, tie shoes, or drive a car. My motor skills are the reason why I’m not fully able to understand these tasks so I like to do things in a routine.  It has been very difficult for me to learn to do many things others take for granted - I had to work hard to learn how to walk, write, and communicate which was challenging for me and my family.  Cerebral Palsy causes me to walk with a limp, and I even had to wear a foot brace to help me with walking.  It wasn’t a guarantee it would work so I said to my doctors that I am capable of walking without the foot brace.  And I am!  Autism also hasn’t kept me from succeeding – In high school and college, I won many awards such as Homecoming King, Junior Marshall, Outstanding Morning Sports Announcer, Sam Adrianoff Award, and Outstanding Student in Reading and Social Studies.

WHAT IS A CURRENT INTEREST? I’m currently involved with the Special Olympics, participating in Basketball, Bowling, Track, and Golf.  Since 2006, I have received 45 medals in total, as well as being named “2010 St. Lucie County Athlete of the Year”.  Being Athlete of the Year was a very exciting time in my life, as it was the first time ever that a Special Olympics athlete received this award, being recognized by all the coaches and athletes together.  I’ve also sung the national anthem at County Summer Games for track, Golf Nationals in 2009 and 2010 during opening ceremonies for the County Games for Equestrian.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT WORK EXPERIENCE?  I am currently volunteering at St.Lucie Medical Center on Wednesdays and Fridays in the Mail Room.  My job is to seal mail, take outgoing mail to the Mail Box, and delivering mail to different departments.  It is a fun opportunity and I enjoy sharing my experiences with my co-workers.

WHAT IS YOUR LONGTERM CAREER GOAL? My career goal is to be a sports announcer for ESPN.  The reason I chose this goal is because I know every statistic in every sport.  If you ask me for a stat, I can provide you that stat!  For example: The Miami Heat have an 18 game winning streak in the NBA that is currently the best streak in the NBA this season, besting the Los Angeles Clippers who had a 17 game winning streak this season. This is a pretty unique skill to have!  I am also doing research on how to become a sportscaster, as well as reading leadership books to give me confidence in myself!

YOU ARE KNOWN FOR SHARING INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES.  WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITES AND WHY?  Here is a favorite quote of mine from Vince Lombardi:  “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is!”  What does that mean to me?  Simply this:   I’m not always going to win everything in life.  Even though I am autistic,  I must also learn  that I will sometimes come up short, but I must keep going in life.  It also means not letting anybody stop me in pursuing my dreams, goals, and achievements as an individual.

Malcolm Forbes also said: “Failure is Success” What does that mean to me?  Well, if we learn from our failure and if you want to achieve your goals in life, then you have to work hard for your success and earn it.

WHO ARE YOUR HEROES AND WHY? My heroes are my family, friends, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, John Maxwell and Stephen Covey.   These individuals have inspired me to continue pursuing my goals as a sportscaster and reminding me that anything is possible, as long as you set your mind to it.

FINAL WORDS?, To others with autism, I would say to not let your diagnosis affect you as a human being, stay strong and never give up.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.