By Aaron Bouma
For much of my life I have been mainly focused on military history and military affairs as my main special interest. Just as many autistics, I possess a strong interest in a specific topic which I fixate on.
A year after high school in 2007 I attempted to join the Canadian Forces but unfortunately I was rejected, as many autistic are when they try to enlist. The understanding is that if I passed all testing, due to my autism and OCD I would not be able to pass the medical examination due to my autism, but more so my OCD. If you’ve attempted to join the Canadian Forces or United States Military and are on the autism spectrum, you probably understand what I went through. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar. Yet every Autistic person is different.
We all have our goals and strengths, and our struggles and weaknesses. You may be better at Math than I am. I’ll be honest I’m not the greatest at math.
Many autistic people struggle with rejection, exclusion, feelings of loneliness and isolation. In 2020 because of Covid, the rest of the neurotypical world is able to experience what we go through all the time. This pandemic has made things worse for us … more exclusive, more tense, less understanding and supportive.
A solution is to get creative!
Just as I did so in 2007 and onwards. I created operations and received the recognition and support from my community for serving as a military specialist for Carleton County. Basically, I was a liaison and historian for my local area, being able to do presentations on war history to local schools, and supporting our veterans and initiatives along side.
Year after year these initiatives have grown. Today, I do that, am Sargent of Arms at my local legion and am owner of my own woodworking business, @Boumawoodworks.
Since 2005 I’ve built military models from scratch, my mind being able to look at pictures and cut out parts, piece by piece. Today, that’s anything from full size rifles, to smaller tank and aircraft, warships and submarines. Today, I also build multiple types of furniture. I also do neighbourhood watch for my community in Jacksontown, involved in Conservative Party politics provincial and federal and workout very often and stay fit. But for some of us as you know, many of us lack the opportunity to achieve goals and be active in these ways.
Don’t think my situation has been easy. To this day, I have a very difficult time dealing with negative and narrow-minded people.
The pandemic has made things worse.
How does one succeed during these times? Do you feel left out, isolated, lonely, belittled? Discriminated? I HEAR YOU. We live in a world not designed for us. Amen! It’s exhausting!
So many of my fellow autistic people I talk to regularly face this on a daily basis. Including commonly in the workplace or even social help groups and beyond. For people of difference, disabilities and gender differences, our movement is today.
It takes effort for us to get creative. All these years after being not allowed to directly serve in the Military, I realized that getting creative and being innovative, I could do a lot more outside the military to change and improve things and serve in different ways.
Sometimes, going around barriers is required to push through or remove those barriers. I certainly fight for the awareness and acceptance of autistic people as I’ve been doing since 2007. That certainly includes showing the military what Autistic people are capable of. Operation Surging Message was part of that, building LAV-III armoured vehicles to give to military and political leaders was something I was put together in 2016.
It’s critical to think outside the box. How do you do that Are you one that is comfortable going outside your comfort zone? If you’re like me, and have experienced that in a number of ways, it’s good sometimes, but it’s difficult. It’s hard mentally. Your energy can and does depend on a positive attitude but also a positive atmosphere that is supportive.
In being proactive and following your dreams, it’s important to have a most trusting circle of family and friends to help you through difficult times and support you during good times. Protecting and looking after your mental health is key.
To conclude, I hope that this inspires you to think and open up to positive ideas and goals to help you in your journey. I know that autism support groups are often a very good way to find pear support and ideas from like minded persons.
This is the latest built Scratch model I built.
This is the MK.II Bren Gun Carrier I built as a gift for The Royal New Brunswick Regiment 250th anniversary. #Mindofa3dprinter #3dprinterguy
I was born in Woodstock NB Canada, I was diagnosed with Autism at 3 and Aspergers at 12. My business page is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BOUMAWOODWORKS/ as well as Instagram. https://instagram.com/boumawoodworks?igshid=tmemj7m2l13k