WASHINGTON - Phil Martin is an EMS dispatcher, a social media activist, a photographer…and a man living with Asperger's Syndrome. We’ve shared Phil's digital diaries all week long and sat down with him to talk about his story.
Phil was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome late in life. He was about 16-years-old and redoing the 9th grade of high school for the fourth time. He struggled with communication his whole life before he was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s, social phobia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The diagnosis made a great impact on his life – but at first, it wasn’t for the better.
"It made me almost ashamed of the diagnosis. It made me not want to tell people. I didn't want to go to school," he said. "I didn't want to get on the bus. I didn't want to be associated with anything that would put me somewhere other than being like everybody else."
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GROWING WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME
While Phil struggled at first he has grown so much since he was diagnosed. Now 26-years-old, Phil works as an EMS dispatcher who directs ambulance calls. He also is a photographer and does public affairs work for a volunteer fire department.
A phenomenal photographer, Phil takes special pictures for Autism Speaks. One of his assignments - traveling cross-country connecting and photographing individuals on the spectrum.
"I had co-workers and friends continuously tell me I didn't have autism because they didn't know what autism was. So I wanted to share everyone's story so to see that autism just isn't that one picture you think of when you hear it."
Phil says his best advice for families who are just receiving an autism diagnosis is to utilize every resource you have. He was diagnosed late in life but was lucky enough to go to a school where they prepared them for life after class.
His girlfriend Angelica and their beautiful son Bryce are the main focus of Phil's life now. But he still has concerns that stem from his disability. He says because he does have a communication lag he worries he won’t be able to help his son with all of the issues he will eventually face.
"It's a fear. It's a fear I'm not going to be able to a perfect dad to him because of autism. I know I'm going to try. I'm not going to stop trying but that is my fear."
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