Meet Sean S.
Sean S., 35
My personal definition of advocacy is being the voice and standing up for those who have a difficult time doing so by themselves.
Sean is one of our Volunteer Advocacy Ambassadors from California. He is a self-advocate and joined the ambassador program in December of 2021. He has participated in multiple advocacy initiatives since joining the program, including the Autism Speaks Advocacy Forum and Hill Day.
Sean’s made it his mission to help other people with autism and provide support to parents and families with newly diagnosed children. He said he wants to educate the public by speaking about his personal experiences and help to create a world where people with autism feel included and accepted.
We asked Sean some questions about why he chooses to advocate and what advocating for people with autism means to him. Learn more about him and his autism journey in this Q&A:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement with Autism Speaks.
I am from Orange County, California and am an Autism Speaks Advocacy Ambassador for the area. I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified), a diagnosis that no longer exists today. One reason why Autism Speaks is a great organization to volunteer with is because I get the opportunity to do something that benefits people on a nationwide scale. I also really like doing it, which increases my productivity and efficiency.
What does advocacy mean to you, and why is it important?
My personal definition of advocacy is being the voice and standing up for those who have a difficult time doing so by themselves. It’s also about doing the same thing for those who are capable and have the desire but need a push to do so for whatever reason.
Why is it important for autism advocates to work with federal and state legislators?
I believe it’s important to build rapport with the offices rather than just immediately asking for something, like autism related funding. Once you do that, you can stress the importance of certain issues and try to gain the support we need as a community at various levels.
What is an autism policy issue that is particularly important to you?
The MOST important autism policy issue, that I place the most value on, is more assistance and funding for employment opportunities for people with autism (like the Microsoft autism hiring program).
Is there a milestone or accomplishment in your journey as an advocate of which you are particularly proud?
Absolutely! A huge accomplishment that I recently made is that I was the 2022 Best Disability Service Organization in Laguna Beach California!! It was for my organization, “I Know Autism,” which provides a wide range of support to people with autism and their families. In addition to founding my organization, I’m also a motivational speaker and provide services for guest speaking at online and in-person events, Podcasts and on YouTube.
What advice would you give other autistic individuals?
Get to know yourself, your likes, your dislikes, your talents, your flaws and find a way to capitalize on them!
Interested in becoming an Advocacy Ambassador with Autism Speaks? Apply today or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how you can get involved with this life-enhancing program.