Meet Alex A.

Alex A.

People with autism and other disabilities are some of the most compassionate and loyal people I have met. I’m proud to be a part of that community. I also think there really is no such thing as being “normal” and if there is, it’s overrated.
Alex smiling at graduation

My name is Alex, and I was diagnosed with autism when I was 2 years old. I received Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) until I was 7, which helped my progression immensely, despite my mom being told by doctors that I still likely wouldn't function in society as a "normal" adult.  

At 27, I'm more comfortable being open about my diagnosis because I am very proud of what I have accomplished against the odds. I recently earned my Master of Special Education from Vanderbilt University and work as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). I provide direct one-on-one behavioral interventions to teach communication, social, and daily living skills and reduce problematic behaviors in all facets of life. My goal has always been to help children who may be facing similar situations that I went through growing up.  

I also own my own production company, Blu Star Productions, which empowers filmmakers who have autism and are neurodivergent. My early experiences are such a big part of my life today as an adult. I hope to give opportunities to anyone in the disability community looking to better their lives and chase their dreams. Most importantly, I want to emphasize that labels don't mean limits; I’m living proof that you can exceed expectations.  


Learn more about Alex and his autism journey in this Q&A: 

Alex smiling and looking down

What does being autistic mean to you?  

It’s a part of my identity now. Whereas I used to be ashamed of it, I now embrace it.  

When did you first realize you were autistic? How did you process that information?

I was always aware as I would stim in public at first (for me this was rubbing my hands and jumping in place).  I never thought too deeply about it until high school when I started to realize I processed things differently than some of my peers.  

How were you received by friends and peers when you revealed you were on the spectrum?

The reaction couldn’t have been better honestly. I just recently revealed my diagnosis to my friends and extended family through social media. The love I received privately and in the comments was incredible. It made me feel very grateful for my friends in loving me for who I am and not by whatever labels may be attached to my name.  

In what areas of your life has your autism helped you excel? 

I think it shines through in two areas the most. One being my desire to want to serve and help the ABA community that gave so much to me as a child. Had I not had that experience growing up, I don’t think I would have the same passion for wanting to help those with autism that I do now.  

The other area being my passion for creativity, specifically with filmmaking. I think my autism has really led to some creative breakthroughs in my work as a documentarian, and I’m grateful for that.  

Alex sitting in a chair with house plants behind him

What struggles have you faced because of your autism?  

I’m still learning so much about how to be a more compassionate person. Seeing the perspective of others is something I’m trying to improve at every day. I’ve definitely come a long way from where I was even 10 years ago, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

What services and supports have you received since being diagnosed? How have they help you?  

I received ABA services for five years after I was diagnosed. At the time, I didn’t realize how those services would impact my life, other than reducing my challenging behaviors and creating alternative behaviors. However, now as an adult, I am so grateful that my parents had the foresight to get me the behavioral services that would drastically improve my life in the future. In getting older I’ve started to realize how those services had monumental implications on my life that at the time I didn’t recognize.  

What are a few of your personal and professional goals?  

I want to get to a place in my career where I can financially provide for my parents and ensure that they can live comfortably for the rest of their lives. This relates to my professional goal as I want to build my brand (Blu Star Productions) into a company that not only fosters creativity, but also is therapeutic and provides purpose for those who identify as neurodivergent.  

What are five words that best describe you?  

Determined. Goofy. Gracious. Ambitious. Caring.  

Why did you choose the path of special education? 

Alex smiling and walking at graduation

When I graduated college at University California Santa Barbara, I didn’t know if I wanted to pursue filmmaking full time in Los Angeles. So, when I was back home to figure out my path, my mom suggested I try my hand at ABA as I received the services myself as a kiddo. At first, I was reluctant, but her words of affirmation eventually made me cave. It was one of the best decisions I made as the work improved my overall quality of life. By being able to serve the autism community I have personally learned so much about myself and other people. That’s why it felt natural to want to pursue my masters and eventually become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).  

When I was accepted to Vanderbilt’s prestigious special education master’s program, it felt like a no-brainer. The two years I spent working towards my degree were filled with times where I felt like the weight of the world was on me but through perseverance and the support of my friends and family I earned my degree. There were even points when I considered dropping out of the master’s program because it was so stressful and mentally taxing. But the graciousness of those around me helped me get through it-and come out a better person. I’m thankful for my time at Vanderbilt and wouldn’t change any part of it.  

How does it feel knowing that every day you go to work, you can help others like yourself, become better versions of themselves?  

It’s an incredible feeling. I think my own perspective of my ABA services changed when I became an RBT and I realized how much of a difference we can make in the lives of children. Seeing kids reach milestones, have a breakthrough moment, or just illuminate the room with a smile because they did something independently are moments I will forever cherish. And I look forward to making more in the future.  

What are you most proud of both personally and professionally?  

Personally, I’m proud of all the relationships I’ve been able to cultivate in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am professionally without the amazing people  around me today. I can only hope going forward I’m able to reciprocate a fraction of the love they have shown me and continue to show me.  

Professionally I’m proud of my desire to help others in the disability community. In high school, I used to be afraid of interacting with those who had more severe disabilities because I wasn’t yet at ease with my own diagnosis-and wanted to be seen as normal. Now I realize people with autism and other disabilities are some of the most compassionate and loyal people I have met. I’m proud to be a part of that community. I also think there really is no such thing as being “normal” and if there is, it’s overrated.  

Why is being a self-advocate/autism advocate in general, important to you? 

I think our society is getting better at accepting those with autism and other disabilities, but there is still so much work to be done. I hope that by sharing my story, others who have a diagnosis but might be scared to share will have the confidence to do so. I think it would be an awesome moment if in the future, someone came up to me and said they were influenced to share their own diagnosis/story because they saw mine. Most importantly, I have a sense of deep gratitude by being an advocate in this moment through sharing my story with Autism Speaks.  

The story shared above represents the experience, views and perspectives of the individual(s) highlighted. We aim to share stories across the spectrum and throughout the life span, but the information provided on our website is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider and does not replace the advice of medical, legal or educational professionals.