Meet Andrew D.
Andrew D. , 28
“The beauty of it, but also the difficulty,” he says, “is that it’s so broad, hence the name ‘autism spectrum.’”
Andrew is an aspiring actor whose work in the Tectonic Theater Project’s “Uncommon Sense,” an Off-Broadway show exploring four diverse story lines of people on the autism spectrum, was recognized by The New York Times.
He’s come a long way from the behavioral and speech challenges he experienced as a young child; his parents at one point thought he might be deaf, until he was diagnosed with autism at age 2.
Now at age 28, Andrew says that his apparent ease in social situations and language skills occasionally makes it difficult for people to see him as someone with autism spectrum disorder, especially when he’s with people who are more severely impacted. But, he says, autism is so many things.
Andrew’s girlfriend, Kirsten, who is also on the spectrum, was diagnosed at 19. They met on World Autism Awareness Day in 2016. Kirsten says her autism diagnosis was by far the best thing that ever happened to her.
She explains, “a diagnosis meant that I realized that nothing was wrong with me, that I was a perfectly normal autistic person and there’s a whole community and culture of people out there that are the same way.”
Both these self-advocates urge people to reach out to someone on the spectrum.
Andrew says, “I guarantee if you spend enough time in the community and with people that aren’t like you, you'll find a way to connect. I guarantee you.”