J.R. Reed is a late-diagnosed autism and neurodiversity self-advocate with Asperger's. He was out of high school for a decade before autism began being diagnosed in children, and, as he likes to say, he, "Grew Up Without a Spectrum To Be On."
After spending 20 years as a successful freelance writer, having been published in more than 30 national and local magazines, a dozen daily newspapers and scores of websites, he put all that behind him and began focusing on autism, the brain, and advocacy.
Diagnosed in 2011, J.R. left behind an award winning single parent blog and in 2012 created the first version of Not Weird Just Autistic. In 2017 he moved from Long Beach, CA to the peace of the Missouri Ozarks so as to escape the sensory overload that is Los Angels & Orange County. It was there that he began to self-advocate and advocate full time for others on the spectrum and with developmental disabilities. After participating in the 2019 Missouri Partners In Policymaking program, his opportunities took off from there.
In 2018 J.R. was honored by his town, Hollister, MO, with a Proclomation honoring him for his work focusing on Autism Acceptance and Neurodiversity.
In late 2020 J.R. made the short-list for non-political advisory positions on the Missouri Governor's Council on Disability Rights and an advisory position on the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council in the Biden Administration. Both appointments are pending.
J.R. sits on the board of:
Southwest Autism Network
Empower Abilities (beginning in March 2021)
It all began on a snowy mid-1960s Thanksgiving weekend in Nebraska. J.R. lived there three years before moving to Southern California where he was raised on the LA/OC border.
In fifth grade he moved to Christian school and it all went downhill from there, J.R. was constantly being called, "Weird, stupid," and, "lazy," by teachers, in front of his classmates. He also repeatedly heard that he would never live up to his potential or that he couldn't reach his potential. That last part still happens today, though not as much.
His self-esteem circling the toilet, J.R. was off to the Navy as a Corpsman (medic). Less than two years later he received a medical/psychological discharge. Years later he got his hands on his military medical records, and surprisingly, every reason they gave for the discharge described Asperger's perfectly.
Next it was off to the workforce, where he eventually ended up as a Sales Manager at a successful auto dealership. There his boss referred toJ.R. as Forrest Gump on a daily basis, both to his face and in front of his employees.
It was then that he turned to writing full time. After he received his diagnosis, J.R. made the shift from writing full time and coaching youth hockey part time to coaching full time and writing/advocating part-time.
He landed in the Anaheim Ducks Youth Development Department where for six years he coached kids from 9-years-old through high school varsity at both the recreational and travel levels. Many of his players were on the spectrum or had other developmental disabilities. J.R. loved working with the kids other coaches didn't want.
He made a name for himself as a coach who took weaker players and developed their skills to prepare them for higher levels of hockey. His underdog teams won league championship after league championship and various tournaments above their skill level. His high school junior varsity team won an Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League championship, beating 38 other schools for the honor.
In 2019 J.R. self-published, An Asperger's Guide To Dating Neurotypicals. It spent a couple of weeks in the Top 20 of Amazon's Hot New Dating Books list. It's currently available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
Realizing the title sounded too much like a college textbook, he began a re-write that is now being considered by a traditional publisher.
The book he's currently writing is titled, Autism Is My Superpower and tells the detailed story of what it was like growing up in a time before autism as we know it today existed and how those experiences influenced the rest of his life.
Next is, The Tye That Binds, the story of a possibly autistic autism service dog and the weird, quirky and what others call, "cute," behaviour he displays at home.
"You were definitely an angel put here on earth to mentor and guide others that are trying to find ways to navigate this CraZy world!! You made such an impact on Nicolas’ life that I believe that’s the reason he’s made such improvements and continues too, because you believed & supported him!! "
From the parent of an autistic hockey player
After hearing JR Reed speak at Disability Rights Legislative Day, his inspiring story has really stuck with me. He would be a great inspiration for our attending youth! I’d really like to reach out to him and see if he’s interested in participating during our virtual event and possibly future events.
Governor's Council on Disability
“Wow, great insight here!”
Not Weird Just Autistic was originally created as a blog to chronicle J.R.'s experience as a late-diagnosed adult and to explore his journey both before and after diagnosis. Since then, it has evolved to include a podcast, webinars, speaking, and events for the Neurodivergent community everywhere.
Though he now mentors and works with others, J.R. still has to remember to accept himself and his challenges, to value his own quirky perspectives, and talents, and to keep sharing his voice with others.
We all struggle daily in our own way, because though were all autistic or otherwise Neurodivergent, each of us is still a unique individual with their own struggles.
As Dr. Stephen Mark Shore famously said, "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism."
The goal here is to help one person at a time understand and accept themself for who they are, and to be proud of who they are. We also have to be out in the community, teaching the Neurotypical population about who we are and why accepting us as part of the community at large will benefit them both socially and in the workplace.
Through writing, podcasting, speaking, teaching classes, leading webinars and other platforms, J.R, speaks up for those who can't or won't speak up.
Through projects like our newest one, The League of Extraordinary Adventurers, Neurodivergent high school students and young adults will have an opportunity to show their nerdy side with online games of Dungeons & Dragons.
In 2021 we will be starting regular Zoom meetings for Neurodiveergent adults and for parents of Neurodivergent kids on a wide variety of subjects.
We want to encourage adults and kids with autism and other Neurodivergent conditions who are looking to find their place, their purpose, and their voice.
Those of us on the spectrum face unique challenges in that regard due to, among other things, communication difficulties and rampant misconceptions about autism. Our goal is to remove the barriers – practical, ideological, legal, and social – that marginalize and isolate those with autism and all Neurodivergent disorders.
Keep checking this site for even more great stuff, and please don't forget to sign up to be notified of new opportunities and new content. It's right there at the bottom of the page.
Tye is a black and white black lab/boxer mix who was found at six-months-old in a bag inside a dumpster. He was taken to Dogs Nation, an organization that takes rescue dogs, trains them, and provides service dogs for those of us on the spectrum and military vets suffering from PTSD.
Tye was trained specifically for J.R.'s individual needs and helps him with the things he deals with on a daily basis, such as social anxiety. Tye can sense J.R.'s heartbeat and blood pressure from 75-100 feet away and will come to him when he senses either being elevated.
After he was trained, Tye was given to J.R. as a gift. All service dogs from Dogs Nation are gifts to their owners. They work on donations and never charge for a dog,
Tye travels with J.R. as he makes appearances, and is known throughout the Missouri autism community for his manners (while wearing a service vest) and his quirky personality. Because of how he acts at home, J.R. believes Tye might be the only autistic autism service dog in existence, though he has no data to back that claim up.
FOLLOW TYE ON INSTAGRAM
Copyright © 2017-2021 Not Weird Just Autistic - All Rights Reserved.
PROMOTING AUTISM ACCEPTANCE and NEURODIVERSITY