Daniel Ray Williams is a first time author who self-published his first book, an autobiography, My Voice: Faced with Autism in 2018. Daniel has a passion for writing and been writing since the age of 12. Daniel is at work writing his second book. This week he shared some of his difficulties navigating life as as a member of multiple marginalized identities and how his positive attitude has helped him throughout his life.
When did you become aware you were autistic? If you remember, how was your diagnosis introduced to you (as positive, negative, neutral?)
My oldest sister had me see a genetics doctor at age 21. It was several months after my father passed away. I had a test done, and I was diagnosed with autism. The diagnosis was neutral as one point I was relieved to finally have been diagnosed, but not happy that my parents did not get me diagnosed as they were not knowledgeable about autism.
Describe some of the challenges you faced in school.
I was bullied and made fun of in middle and high school. I was tormented about being Gay and not fitting in too. I was very, very shy and wanted to be myself.
What, if anything, helped you navigate the bullying and isolation?
It was my ability to get through those hard times with being bullied in middle and high school. I did not give up on myself. I did not listen to what other people did or said about me.
What challenges have you faced in the transition to adulthood? What has helped with this?
Besides losing both of my parents in the teen years and then going from family home to family home, I struggled to maintain my life in a certain way. In my 20s, I was placed in three Medicaid wavier homes from 2014-2017. I gained strength even through this ordeal being in waiver homes. What helped me through all of this has been again my strength and keeping a positive attitude, knowing everything was going to work out for the better.
What (or who) do you attribute to your positive identity development (as an autistic person, gay person, black person, writer, etc.)?
I especially look up to my father, despite what he went through with me. Both my mom and dad believed in me when no one else did. I believed in myself when times got tough in this world after my parents passed away. I identify myself as being gay, a writer, and also black in this world.
Have you, or someone you know, been through a dangerous situation with the police because the officer(s) didn’t understand Autism?
This was when I lived in a waiver home in 2015. This was not a dangerous situation, but I was stalking a guy I wanted to know, and he called the police. He did not realize I was autistic. The police came to the apartment home, talked to me, and I was escorted in the back of the police car and taken back home. It was difficult as I never wanted to be in trouble, and I was scared of the police.
How unfair do you think life is for an Autistic or disabled person? What, if anything, can people do to make the situation better?
Sometimes a person with autism or a disabled person has difficulties functioning in this world and is constantly overlooked as a person. People should not be so unaware of people with disabilities because we do have lives. We want to be seen and heard just like anyone else.
Tell me about your book and why you wrote it.
My first book is titled My Voice: Faced with Autism is about my life with autism. Yes, it is an autobiography about my history with autism. I wrote the book to inspire so many people with disabilities to write or tell their life story to the world. This book is important to me because I have been through a lot of things in my life and have learned a lot by that telling my life story. My Voice: Faced with Autism is available on Lulu.com and Amazon.com.