The Big Interview with Cale Irwin

27 Feb

At last it’s here! The Big Interview.

This month I’m speaking to Cale Irwin a 20 year old with the condition Aspergers. Not only did i enjoy this interview but i learnt a great deal from it’ so thank you Cale.

Hi cale. so you have Aspergers? Is that correct? How old were you when you discovered you had Aspergers? And how old are you know?

I have Asperger’s Syndrome, diagnosed by a psychiatrist in 1997, when i was 8. I was informed about the diagnosis when i started asking about it when I was 17. Since my brother has classic Kanner’s, and autism is genetic, and I know my social skills were awful, it seemed Asperger’s was a possibility. So that’s when i found out about it directly from my parents. im almost 20 now.

Did you ever see yourself as different when growing up? Do you remember what age you were at the time these fellings came about?

I felt different from my peers from the moment I started meeting my peers; the age difference between us was the first factor. Because I was fully conversational at around 14 months, Iwas involved in programs for late toddlers before i’d even learned to walk. By kindergardenthe differences between myself and my peers began to lead to bullying which continued on into my late teens.  However, it was not until 14 that I began to understand just how different I was from my peers. I always knew I was smarter ( not in a cocky way, but in a testable IQ way ), and less socially competent. But  it wasn’t until then that I realized I perceived the world differently then they did. It was then that i become aware of how they perceived me, as an other, and one who had always been an other and simply hadn’t realized it. I would compare it to when the ugly duckling looked up for the first time and realized he wasn’t with his family, but rather with individuals who bore some similarities but also major differences from himself.

Cale what was school life like for a child with Asperger’s?

I obviously can’t speak for all individuals with AS, but for me, all elementary classes besides my gifted-LD class were hell! I was physically assaulted daily from K-4th, and verbally abused from 3rd on. I knew the material before we learned it in class, but teachers became angry when i sat and read rather then paying attention to their lessons. My gifted-LDclass which was all individuals who would later be diagnosed with Asperger’s or PDD-NOS was the major highlight . I was surrounded with kids who were like me. Offered material that challenged me intellectually, and in a classroom built for kids with sensory sensitivities.

Could you tell me is it true that all children with Aspergers develop special interest?

I think most do! Though i know i didn’t develop my special interest ( which happens to be ASDs ) until I was 15 or so. Before that I sort of bounced around, reading a bit of everything, but never finding anything that stuck. Now I eat, sleep and breathe books on autism, and no one can make me shut up about it.

Do you have any sensory sensitivities or problems with moter tics?

I have both! I can’t be suddenly touched or be around loud noise ( classifying loud as at or above normal television volume ). I can’t filter out background noise so i need conversations to be in a quiet environments. I have proprioceptive difficulties, so I stim almost constantly to gain information about the location of my body in space. I also have prosopagnosia ( face -blindness ), but I’m not sure whether that’s classifiable as a sensory issue in the same way.

Recently I have developed a slew of moter tics, and very recently some vocal ones, which would warrant a TS diagnosis in any country but the US (as DSM says 18 or under onset, but ICD-10 says 21 and under). It would be difficult to say whether the TS is more bothersome because of the activities it prevents me from doing ( I’ve had to change my focus in neuroscience as i can no longer operate needles/scalpels ), or because of the unkind and judgemental remarks i get from others.

So Cale, What’s life like for you now, how are you spending your time, are you happy with where your life is heading?

Life for me know is better then it has ever been . I’ve gained a position in the college which allows me to utilize my devotion to and fascination with autism ( my professors were quite excited to find an Aspie with a special interest in ASDs. Now i can do all their grunt work for them, because it’s far more fascinating to me then to them. ; ) I spend about a quarter of my working hours in class and doing hw, a quarter reading informative materials for fun, a quarter reading informative materials for research purposes, and as of late a quarter with autistic children, one of whom I’m setting up an ABA program for. I tend to get the majority of my social interaction with peers during meals or in the half-hour before sleep, but i do try and schedule a few hours each weekend to associate with friends.

I’mvery happy with where life is heading at this point. Academia was made for Aspies and i’ve certainly found my place within it. I have found a job goal to aim for ( BCBA) which I know will be immensely personally satisfying. And adopting children is certainly in my future, either with or without a partner.

Wow they are some pretty amazing goals! I wish you every luck in succeeding  with them. It’s been fantastic speaking with you Cale. Your a person with a strong sense of where his meant to be in life. Your story is one of a young man that never gave up on what he wanted no matter what was but in his path Maybe the years of bullying have made you the strong man you are today. I hope so!

Please come back again some time in the feature with an update on your journey through life, But before you leave would you be so kind to finish by giving us a cool  Aspie fact! one you would like to express to the world?

I can’t think of a cool fact off hand ( other then the speculation that both Steve jobs and Bill Gates are Aspies ), but i will offer my favorite Aspie quote: “For success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential.” – Hans Asperger.

I could not agree more:)

Want to read more on what Cale has been up to? Visit or follow frogger11758 on twitter .

7 Responses to “The Big Interview with Cale Irwin”

  1. Gina Harris March 6, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    Just seen the date for the next interview. I will be there.
    Loving the whole interview idea. Keep up the good work.

  2. Adonya Wong March 5, 2009 at 3:05 am #

    Thank you, Claire, for hosting this interview with Cale. It is always nice to read about autism and aspergers as experienced through the eyes of a young adult.

    This interview offers a lot of insight… and hope.

    Thank you, Cale, for sharing with us!


    Adonya Wong
    Author | Blogger | Twitterer

  3. My Autism Insights March 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

    Great questions and very enlightening responses. Thanks to you both!

  4. Gina Harris March 1, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    Wow a fantastic and informative interview. Cale sounds like a strong wise young man that will make many people proud. He had it hard at school as a young child all the way to a teen as many of our children do. We need more like Cale to show our children that holding your head high and never giving up makes you the winner and the bullies the losers. Well down Cale. Top interview.
    Well done claire for finding him and getting him to share his brave and honest story.

  5. thelittlefluffycat February 27, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    Cale is a great example of the things our kids can contribute if they’re advocated for and supported! Terrific post!

  6. Amazing_Grace February 27, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    Great post! 🙂


  1. Pages tagged "loud" - February 27, 2009

    […] bookmarks tagged loud The Big Interview with Cale Irwin saved by 11 others     mikeytwotoes bookmarked on 02/27/09 | […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: