By Aaron Bouma
For much of my life I have been mainly focused on military history and military affairs as my main special interest. Many Autistics have a strong interest in a specific topic which we fixate on.
In 2007, a year after I graduated from high school, I attempted to join the Canadian Forces. Unfortunately I was rejected, as many autistic people are. The understanding is that if I passed all testing, due to my autism and OCD directly I would not be able to pass medical due to my Autism but more so my OCD. If you’ve attempted to join the Canadian Forces or US Military and are on the spectrum, you probably understand what I went through, maybe you have had the same experiences. Every Autistic person (person with ASD) is different.
We all have our goals and strengths, and our struggles and weaknesses. You may be better at Math than I am. I’m not the greatest at math.
Many autistic people deal with rejection, exclusion, feelings of loneliness and isolation.
In 2020 the rest of the advanced neuro typical world now feels our pain. This pandemic has made things worse for us, more exclusive, more tense, less understanding and supportive.
If you are like me, you can get creative.
Just as I did so since 2007. I created operations and got the recognition and support from my community for serving as military specialist for Carleton County. Basically 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.
Year after year these initiatives have grown. Today I 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 is 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 Neighborhood Watch for my community in Jacksontown. I’m involved in Conservative Party politics at the provincial and federal level. I workout very often to stay fit.
Unfortunately, many of us lack the opportunity to achieve goals and be active in these ways.
Don’t think my situation has been easy either. To this day, I still have very difficult times dealing with negative and narrow-minded persons.
This 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 bases. 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 our own initiative 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, that’s what is required to push through or remove barriers, (Go around them.) I certainly fight for the awareness and acceptance of autistic people as I’ve been doing as well 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 putting together in 2016.
Thinking outside the box I feel is important. How do you think outside the box? Are you one that is comfortable going outside you comfort zone? If your like me, and have experienced that in a number of ways, it’s good sometimes, but it’s also 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 know your 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.
I hope that this inspires you to think and open positive ideas and goals to help you in your journey. Autism support groups are often a very good way to find peer support and ideas from like-minded persons.
This is the latest 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.
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
Aaron Bouma has a mind Like a 3-D Printer and is able to replicate complex military designs into model form. #Mindofa3dprinter #3dprinterguy