I struggle with understanding the impact of what I do and to receive an honor, which is an honor, is something I have trouble processing. I didn't start out four years ago with the goal of receiving recognition for what I am doing. If you ever ask me why I do what I do I will simply say, "because I do it."
In 2012 I was awarded the "Mental Health Champion" award in Missouri and once again I'm receiving another award. And not only that, but this is the inaugural award which will be an annual thing. So now I'm also a benchmark in a way. But does this make me a leader? That's the name of this award and from now on I will have "recipient of the youth leadership award" when being introduced but I have to admit I don't feel like a leader. Do I lead? I'm unsure what the mark of a leader is but I do what I do simply because it needs to be done.
I won't lie; I am proud of the number of presentations I've given and I'm super proud of the amount of students I've spoken to across Missouri. My mission and dedication to raising the awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum is unwavering. I had a big year and I want next year to be bigger. This isn't just a wish but this has to happen because there are those out there that aren't understood. I lived in that spot for a long time and it's amazing how far just a little bit of understanding goes and for some reason I have the ability to speak in public and do just that.
But does this make me a leader? Again, I don't know the criteria and maybe it's good I don't know. If I started out on my journey of speaking with the intention of winning awards and doing it with intentions of self-gain then perhaps I wouldn't be a leader, or be deserving of such an award. I'm honored, absolutely honored that I am receiving this. I did mention I struggle with understanding the impact and again, if I understood, maybe it wouldn't be the same. I'm so ever thankful that I have been given the support and the stage to do what I do. Receiving this honor just gives me more fuel to continue doing it because, again, I don't know what I do but since I've now being recognized twice I must be doing something right and moving forward I just want to keep doing it and, hopefully, bringing more awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum to those that need it the most.