In a recent article, Louis Scarantino provided insight into the five challenges he has faced as a man with autism
At the age of two and a half, Louis Scarantino was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome – a form of autism. He was nonverbal until the age of four or five. His condition left an indelible mark on his life, making it more difficult for him to experience life in the early years the same way in which other children his age did.
Fortunately, Scarantino was born into a loving family. He recalls his parents never treating him differently from his brother and sister, convincing him of the fact that he could attempt and achieve things he set his mind to. “They showed me that they weren’t going to treat me any different. They were tough on all of us because they wanted us to succeed, but that meant they encouraged us through hard times” he said.
Whereas he once assumed that achieving the same milestones as his peers in high school would be too complicated, Scarantino’s own understanding of his condition allowed him to be able to reach for those milestones with confidence and dignity. When he was 15 years old, he walked straight into Burger King, filled out an application, and was called for an interview the very next day. “I realized that I wasn’t too much different from anybody else, so once I realized that, that’s when I decided that if I wanted something, that I could use my resources and my motivation to go get it” he said.
In 2013, Scarantino graduated from Luzerne County Community College, as well as received an award in his major for the ‘Most Outstanding Student in Office Information Technology’. In the years that followed, he expressed an interest in becoming a motivational speaker and writer.
Today, Scarantino is an autism advocate. He has his own blog on his website - https://www.louisscarantino.com/ - and he has published articles for Autism Speaks, The Mighty, and Project Wednesday.
A force to be reckoned with
In a recent article, Scarantino provided insight into the five challenges he has faced as a man with autism:
- Dating – According to Scarantino, living with autism and dating is a challenge. Every time he would not get a second date, he would feel hopeless, thinking that he would never get married. Some days, he knew that it was due to him being single, but other days, he wished that he did not have autism so that playing the dating field would be a bit easier. “My confidence has boosted, but I still struggle with meeting people. However, I know my time (and the right woman) will come” said Scarantino.
- Going to bars – It is troubling for Scarantino to dwell on the fact that if he did not have autism, he may like going to bars better. Every now and then, he imagines what it would be like to drink beer or do some shots with his friends. “But I don’t have many friends who like to drink, and that’s a struggle” he said.
- Graduating from college – Scarantino graduated from community college and he feels lucky and blessed to have received a college education. However, there were days when he wished he was able to go to a university and make friends along the way. One of the reasons he was unable to do so was because he did not take the SATs in high school due to difficulty with math and reading. “I know there are individuals with autism who go to a four-year college but unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. That bothered me a lot. I sit back a lot and wonder, why can’t that be me?” he said.
- Finding a job – Often times, Scarantino wishes that he is able to work full-time, instead of part-time. However, he understands that his condition makes it difficult to perform certain types of tasks. “My inability to work full-time is still one of the hardest parts of my life with autism. Even though I have a job and support myself to make ends meet, I still feel autism is hard because of employment” he said.
- Living independently – For individuals with autism, living independently is rare. Scarantino is fortunate to be able to live on his own, although there are days when he finds it difficult to manage his finances, take care of his apartment, and maintain his eating habits. “But when I remember how far I come, how independent I am, and how successfully I conquer every obstacle, in my life with autism, I realize how blessed I truly am, and all of the hardships seem worth the successes” he said.
Scarantino stressed that while being diagnosed with autism is not fair, life is not fair. He did not ask to have it nor he did not want to have it, but it is what he has and he tries to make the best of it. “Autism is what makes me ME” he said.
A guiding buoy
Today, there are millions of individuals who have a form of autism. Parents are continuously looking for answers on how to make the transition from a child to an adult easier for their children, and there are also a lot of individuals looking for ways to spread awareness.
Availability of supports and services continue to have a deep impact on the lives of those living with autism and their families. And because of their impact on individuals’ outlook and motivation, the need for these services is continually amplified.
For Scarantino, reminding himself that every individual needs and uses support – regardless of whether they are delivered by an agency – has helped him to feel more comfortable in using the services available to him. And with that comfort came prosperity.
On November 10th of 2018, he published his book – Love Is Too Hard: The Dating (Mis)Adventures of a Man with Autism. In it, Scarantino shares his own perspective on what he views to be one of the biggest issues that individuals with autism face today – dating. He shares online dating tips, talks first dates, and much more. His goal for this book is to enlighten those living with autism by letting them know that when it comes to looking for love, having a confident mindset can do wonders.