Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A collection of stories from individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers in Tennessee



Leo (21), Autism, Davidson County


"I am preparing myself to be a successful author by taking classes at Nashville State, planning new books before writing them, and occasionally meeting with writing coaches one-on-one to improve my writing. "

  • A Self-advocate's Perspective
  • Posted on 12/12/2013

My name is Leo and I’m 21 years old. Currently I live in Davidson County and I have autism. I am the oldest of five kids in my family but the first to release a book. I am currently taking an English Composition class at Nashville State, and afterwards I plan to take Creative Writing, so that I can improve as I continue to write additional books. 
 
I didn’t work or volunteer during high school but I did have summer jobs when I was in high school, including working at Kroger in 2008 and at the donation center at Goodwill in 2009. I worked for the whole summer about 4.5-6 hours a day and got paid. After I graduated from high school in 2010, I went to the Tennessee Rehab Center (TRC) until 2012. With the help of the employment specialist at TRC, I found the job I currently have at Harris Teeter. It was hard to find the job because I was not good at job interviews. My job coach helped me with doing interviews and also came with me to the job interview at Harris Teeter.
 
I drive to Harris Teeter for my job every work night, and I start my shift around 10pm and finish around 6-8am. The first day I worked at Harris Teeter was a challenge because I wasn’t used to staying up that late. I stock shelves and condition the aisles. I put the merchandise where it is supposed to be. It’s been good working at Harris Teeter and I enjoy getting paid.
 
I have worked at Harris Teeter for more than a year now, but I see myself making a living as an author maybe after I turn age 25. However, because of having a job, I can afford to pay my car insurance.  I was glad that I got the job at Harris Teeter so I could also afford a better laptop to do my writing.
 
With my writing job, I first started out wanting to write my story on Facebook instead of publishing it. I didn’t really enjoy writing during middle school because I had to write by hand instead of on a laptop or AlphaSmart. Now that I have a laptop, it’s been a lot easier typing than writing by hand. I first tried to draw the illustrations for my book myself but was not happy with them, so I sent them to a professional illustrator and got the pictures that I have in my book today. I am now a published author with my first book, titled “Devin and the Greedy Ferret,” published by WestBow Press. 
 
I am preparing myself to be a successful author by taking classes at Nashville State, planning new books before writing them, and occasionally meeting with writing coaches one-on-one to improve my writing. I plan to write a series of books in the future with other newly developed characters.  
 

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