Straight From The Source -Tim Mikes
“It is often said that if you have met one person with autism you have met one person with autism,” says Tim Mikes, Canfield, Ohio resident and recent Kent State University graduate. “But it’s imperative to appreciate the unique experiences that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder have.”
As an individual on the spectrum, Tim understands the importance of knowing and meeting other people with ASD. “It’s empowering because it reminds me that I am not alone in my struggles and success,” he says. “This humbling experience also allows me to share my insights that could possibly be of help to others.”
He is passionate about helping young adults, like himself, transition into adulthood and engage with the “real world.” Whether it is through his work with the Kent State Autism Taskforce or as a presenter at Milestones Annual Autism Conference, Tim says helping others through awareness, education and empathy is key to building bridges in the autism community and beyond.
How has Milestones helped you?
Milestones has helped me by teaching me the importance of knowing how to advocate for oneself, specifically being able to understand the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it relates to higher education. Milestones conferences held in June have been extremely helpful for myself and my family because it is one of the few times where medical and educational professionals, individuals with ASD, and family members of those with ASD are able to collaboratively discuss effective approaches to addressing areas of concern and display the success of individuals with ASD. The synergistic environment that Milestones produces at its conferences allows productive learning for all parties involved.
Tell us about yourself – where you work, where you live, where you attended college, places you volunteer, etc.
I currently live in Canfield, Ohio with my parents. I attended three different colleges: Ohio Northern University, Ohio University and Kent State University. While I learned a great deal at Ohio Northern University I transferred to Ohio University because of loneliness. Unfortunately, I had to take a medical leave from Ohio University after a year and was diagnosed with ASD. After several adverse medication reactions, I met medical professionals in Cleveland who expertly assisted me and I returned to my pursuit of a college degree.
I graduated this past May with a degree in Public Health with Cum Laude status from Kent State University. While at Kent State, I helped educate staff about ASD and gave a presentation to the University Police about how to approach students who may be experiencing a sensory integration issue. I helped create a student organization and I remain a member of the Kent State Autism Taskforce which is made up of students, staff and faculty who would like to improve the retention of students with ASD and improve their college experience.
How do you think Milestones impacts the young adult community?
I can, without a shadow of a doubt, say that Milestones positively affects the young adult community. Milestones connects these individuals with resources and others who can help guide them through their journey in life. They also are respectful and understanding of all different types of people who are on the autism spectrum. They teach a valuable lesson on “owning” your disability. This can be thought of as not using it as an excuse but rather taking responsibility in being assertive about getting help when you need it, and also to not become discouraged with yourself when you face difficulties.
How have you personally been affected by your affiliation with Milestones?
I was a presenter for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 conferences. The most recent presentation I gave in 2017 was about writing, which is a common area of difficulty for many with ASD for various reasons (for example, continuity of ideas and maintaining chronological order of events, succinctness or need for giving more detail). I have also been able to volunteer at one of the autism walks which was held in Cleveland. The most recent event that I was able to assist with was a presentation to first-year medical students and explaining what they needed to know about patients with ASD.
What is the most important thing you’d like a friend, relative, or neighbor to know about Milestones?
I would implore friends, relatives and neighbors to go to Milestones if they have a family member with ASD and are not sure how to best assist them. While autism is sadly often shown as a terrible debilitating condition, when one starts to realize that people with ASD are still people, that they request the same things as anyone else – which is respect and understanding – one will start to see that this condition is not as debilitating as initially thought.
I would leave with this thought – Diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Treatment: Respect and understanding with necessary assistive supports in place. Prognosis: Dependent on continuity of treatment plan. In essence it is the willingness of the individuals with ASD and their families’ support and commitment to helping address difficulties, along with being able to connect with resources such as Milestones, that makes all the difference.
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