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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

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Introducing Miriam!

By Miriam

Hello to everyone reading this. My name is Miriam and I am a content creator in my 20s. For those unfamiliar with the term, content creation work includes activities such as video editing, photography, and managing websites. I have been doing this type of work since before this term existed to describe it. I first fell in love with the ability to connect and share stories from our lives through online media back in middle school. I created my own YouTube channel as a teenager and soon expanded my work into managing pages on various social media platforms, blogging, live streaming events, taking photos, and more. I hope writing for #ASDNext can be a way to further use my love of content creation to share my story. 

As I talk about a lot on my YouTube channel, my life often does not fit societal norms and expectations. I am nonbinary and use they/them pronouns. I was born with an extremely rare set of birth defects called VATER that even many doctors have not heard of. I was not diagnosed with autism until I was an adult, though there definitely have been signs of me being autistic my whole life. Describing my life for these reasons and more can get complicated fast, but I also want to show the world that disabled and LGBTQ people exist and that we are valid. Just because I do not fit into the boxes and binaries people want me to check off does not mean there is something wrong with me. 

Along with being a content creator, I also love consuming content in various forms. I sang in choirs growing up and still enjoy listening to music often. I watch a lot of movies, TV shows, and videos from fellow YouTubers. Lately, my content consumption has mostly been a mix of Netflix, YouTube, and YouTube Music. Before the pandemic, I also went to see movies in theaters often. I also like to draw, but I let myself get very out of practice towards the end of high school. Now, a few years later, I am working on redeveloping my fine motor skills and practicing drawing again. I am also pushing myself to practice reading more lately. 

Beyond my love for creating and consuming content, in many ways, I would describe myself as a generalist. Instead of having a special interest, I tend to switch what I fixate on and find many different topics interesting. I am a big believer in life-long learning and I love understanding the world around me beyond surface-level details. I like to see behind the scenes of different fields and learn how the world works throughout different subjects. 

I am also a Philadelphia native. Between parts of the city I have lived in or went to school in, I know so many parts of Philly very well. I commuted across the city almost daily via SEPTA for years during high school and college, after being accepted to one of Philadelphia’s magnet high schools. For those who do not know, Philadelphia has a system to apply for high schools outside of your neighborhood similar to how students apply to college. The opportunity to go to high school in Center City allowed me to learn about my city more intimately. Between traveling for school, volunteer work, jobs, and other programs I started to join around the city in my teenage years, I feel like I know large sections of Philadelphia very well. I still have more to explore in South and West Philly, but I feel like I know the rest of the city pretty deeply at this point.

While I have lived in this city my whole life so far, I want to travel the world someday. Last year was the first time I visited the west coast of the United States, specifically to California, and it was such a happy experience. There are so many places around the world I would love to explore, and my main obstacle before the pandemic was simply lacking the financial resources to travel that much and that far. While many autistic people struggle with overstimulation when in crowds, I actually love attending conferences. My trip to California last year was to attend Vidcon for the first time, a conference for content creators I had wanted to go to for years. Along with attending more conferences, I would love to visit historical sites and natural parks around the world, along with exploring the food and societal aspects of places further from home. I don’t want to just travel as a tourist. Some of the best moments on trips I have taken so far have been when interacting with people in another city as more than a tourist and having deeper conversations with people outside of my geographic bubble back home. I hope that by the time the pandemic is over, I will have built up my income from content creation enough to travel the world. 

I hope you enjoy reading about my life and experiences in future posts. In the meantime, please remember to be yourself and find what brings you joy in the moments between advocating and working towards improving this often overwhelming world.