Our interview with Robert
Interview with Robert
Interviewer: Matt Koch, Assistant: Jenn Harmless
Photographer: Reiner Riantan
First of all: Why do you want to be represented as part of this project?
I do feel that people with Asperger’s have a lot of talent, it’s just that you don’t really see that that much, especially in the major media market, and I think that should change. There’s a film that came out, Power Rangers, that features the first autistic superhero. The guy got acclaimed; he was basically the fan favorite of the entire movie. Honestly, I felt like it was just awesome to have an autistic character in it. They possess unique abilities that an ordinary person won’t have.
Claire Danes did a movie about an autistic girl that worked in the cattle industry. Great film, and they showed how, basically, the autistic mind works. She managed to make the cattle industry a lot better. “Let’s give them more of a humane treatment”.
I haven’t seen that yet, but it’s on my list now.
It’s a true story. And not just in movies; books, and video games, I think it’d be great to have more characters like that. If you see more of it – they could be a positive force.
So you feel that, in that movie [Power Rangers], there’s more of an appropriate, humanizing perspective?
Yes; despite being extremely introverted…they said one thing that really stood out for me. They said that “he loved all of us”, because he sacrificed himself to save the rest of the team. Despite not knowing him for long, he really cared and loved the rest of the team, regardless of who they were, which was pretty touching.
How do you self-identify? In any way, Race/Ethnicity/Religion/Sexual Orientation/Gender/Social Status/Disability/etc.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m far from perfect. I try to be good, compassionate, caring. Looking out for people. I do get offended, I have made stuff I’m not really happy about. Stuff that I don’t feel like sharing with anybody else. I wouldn’t say I’m a great person, but I try to be as good a person as I can be.
How would you like to be seen by society?
Just someone trying to be a good person. Humble, Christian.
How do you think you are seen?
I think that I can be seen as kinda weird, strange, maybe even childish, but I don’t care. That makes me who I am. I like stuff probably that younger people like, but I don’t care I like it; that’s just the kind of person I am.
I like trains; I’ve loved them ever since I was a little boy. I still like them to this day. I can’t really think of anyone my age that still likes trains. They’re more into Xbox, stuff like that. I mean, I like games, but I love trains.
Have you been on a train?
Not a real one; it has to be steam. It can’t be diesel, it can’t be electric, can’t be one of those you see at a museum, or the zoo; those are gas. Probably the closest would be the ones at Disneyland. I’ve ridden on the one at Six Flags back home, which is powered by vegetable oil.
It’s the only vehicle that has its parts on the outside; it almost feels like it’s alive, more like an animal than a machine.
How do you want to improve your community?
Bringing awareness. One of my best friends, her brother is autistic. He’s a great guy; I kinda think his mom wished they’d found a school like this [CIP]. There’s no school like this back home in Missouri. It’s important to bring awareness: there needs to be more. Make it good, but make it a little bit cheaper.
It’s not of use if it’s not accessible.
How do you feel about the state of things right now? For yourself, your family, your friends?
I’m going home for my first three week break, which I’m kind of excited about. I just want to make the time that I have with family, make it something great. My girlfriend who’s back home, she’s going to Cape Girardeau in the fall. So, just: make good memories. Make it count.
Based on all we’ve talked about, if you had one message you could say to the world, what would that be?
Be a good person; above all, try to be compassionate.
If you can, pass it along. Restore good values, because there’s been a lack of morality.
Finally: What do you think your biggest contribution has been thus far in the world/what are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I‘ve gotten thus far in life, in trying to learn to be independent. I’ve made family, friends, girlfriend so proud. I didn’t think I’d get this far.
What year are you? What are you studying?
First semester here. I’m getting the gens out of the way.