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    Posted March 16, 2008 by
    Macon, Georgia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Living with autism

    More from Buckholtz

    Understanding An African-American Asperger

    My name is Michael Buckholtz. I have Asperger's Syndrome. I am also a multi-platinum record producer that wrote music for MC Hammer back in the day. I have been living with it for 42 years, since birth basically. I wasn't diagnosed until in my early 30's. I continue to cope with the effects of this disorder and in doing so, found there was no real assistance for adults with Asperger's disorder in my current hometown of Macon, Georgia. I decided to become proactive. I started a MySpace page to address this issue. At www.myspace.com/aacfdonation, I decided to start a non-profit that would assist adults with autism that had been essentially ignored by the medical community at large. The concept has grown to include all autistic people and their families. The families are coping as well and they need just as much assistance as autistic children and adults. In some states programs are plentiful. In other states, particularly the southern ones, not a lot of services are available. It's even worse when it comes to minorities and autism. The traditional view, especially in the Bible Belt, is that nothing is really wrong with you if you are African-American. You just need more spiritual guidance or just snap out of it and that will solve the problem. Nope, doesn't work. When a person has a neurological problem, all the spiritual guidance and 'wishing it will go away' won't fix it. What will help is to show love and compassion for the person who has the disorder. That, to me, is how spiritual guidance helps when it comes to autism. The biggest issue I've had to deal with while living with Asperger's Syndrome is people not believing I have a disorder. That is the most frustrating problem I have had over the years. People will tell me I look, speak and behave fine. 'You've even become a multi-platinum record producer that worked for MC Hammer! What could be wrong with you?' What most people don't know is that I have to constantly adjust my behavior to fit into specific circumstances. I do that to this day. The way I process information hasn't changed. I have to observe, maybe for many months, how a person deals with, or reacts to, different situations and then I literally have to rehearse them. I will act them out audibly so I can hear myself talking. It's sort of like thinking out loud to oneself. Once I'm satisfied that the way I will respond (facial movements, tone, hand gestures, etc.) to something is as close to what someone else would do normally, I try it out to see if it gets the desired response. If it does, I was successful at mimicking the behavior. I store that information away for a time when I will need it. That's the way I learn and process emotions. I don't just feel emotions, I have to observe, rehearse and then test it on someone, who unfortunately is unsuspecting of my intentions. I do intend, however, to become the top fundraiser of assistance for individual families in the United States and eventually the international community. Why? Well, because no one said I couldn't be. According to the members and many visitors to my MySpace page, it is a service that is missing and someone needs to spearhead it. Who better than someone who lives it daily, hourly, minute by minute and every second. Stay tuned. There is more to come from me on this. Remember, I am a record producer. I have not begun to exhaust all of the potential ideas I have to raise millions for the children and families coping with autism. Stay tuned! You'll see! Unconditionally, Michael Buckholtz
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