Louis Scarantino

@louisscarantino | contributor
Louis Scarantino was born and raised in Old Forge, Pennsylvania. He graduated cum laude from Luzerne County Community College with a degree in Office Information Technology. Louis has built and inspirational platform as an autism advocate, using his gift as a motivational speaker and author to deliver speeches throughout North America and his first book: Love is Too Hard, to inspire autistic men and women around the world. He is a proud member of Toastmasters and seeks to continue helping bring awareness and understanding to autism community. To learn more about his work you can follow Louis@ https://m.facebook.com/autismadvocatelouisscarantino/?ref=bookmarks https://mobile.twitter.com/AutismLouis https://www.instagram.com/louisscarantino96/
Community Voices

Wearing a face mask on the Autism Spectrum

We’re in a global pandemic. The Covid pandemic has caused many people’s lives to change drastically. This has been one of the biggest health threats since the Spanish Flu pandemic of the 1910’s. Whoever thought we would be doing one thing in a million years during this pandemic. Wearing a face mask on a daily basis everywhere we go. There has been political heat on wearing face masks in America. That’s not where I come into this issue. Where I come in is with autism. People with autism have trouble wearing a face mask. And that doesn’t mean they have trouble putting it on. With sensory issues and not liking their face touched, it can be difficult for a person with autism to wear a face mask. It’s been all over the news everywhere. How do we fix this issue with corporations and small businesses around the world? Do you think autism is a legitimate health reason for not having to wear a face mask? Well, businesses can take into account that autism is a health issue even though it’s not physical. But I also think that some people with autism should take this pandemic into account and wear a face mask if they can. But if they can’t, I think some businesses should at least serve but only for a limited period so no one gets sick. If curbside service is available, the person with autism should use curbside service or delivery. If it’s a travel service, I think they should allow the person to take it off every now and then but not the whole time because they need to keep others around them safe. I don’t know if there’s an exact answer to this particular issue. But there’s definitely ways to advocate for it and ways to make it a little easier for a person with autism to not have to wear a face mask all the time if they can’t so they don’t have to. Autism is a health issue just like any other. It’s not physical and Covid is dangerous. I personally don’t mind wearing a face mask but I want to advocate for people who have trouble wearing one.

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Community Voices

I’m Sorry

I’m sorry to all the advocates I was desperate with. I’m sorry to the organizations who feel I was difficult to work with. I’m sorry to my potential collaborators and clients who I let down. I went through some difficult times in the last 6 years. I improved each year and I definitely want a chance to change and redeem myself. Having autism is hard and I’m doing my best.

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Community Voices

Can Autism be the Cure?

Autism can’t be cured. It’s offensive to say that autism should be cured. It’s offensive to say that I want autism to be cured. These statements do not want to be heard by anybody with a form of autism. However, there is another statement we should be focusing on instead. When it comes to being a non-unique and weak person, can autism be the cure? See, a person without autism can go on a trivia show tomorrow and be asked a question about anything random that they never thought of studying. But when a person with autism goes on a trivia show tomorrow and is asked a random question about anything, they however might know the answer. For example, when I was young and even now, I loved learning about how old famous people are. My mom asked me a lot throughout my life, how old is that certain celebrity and I would know the answer.And I can tell you, my mom is older than my idol Shania Twain, just don’t tell her that. They say that Albert Einstein had a form of autism as well as Dan Akroyd and Sir Issac Newton. All famous people part of American history although Akroyd is Canadian.How do I know that? I looked it up on Wikipedia because I love doing research. Just don’t do all your research on Wikipedia or your brain will fry.These people were all unique in their own way and maybe Autism was the cure.Weakness. A lot of people with autism might think they’re weak. But in the words of Elton John, I’m Still Standing according to their strong minds and bodies inside of who they are. Like I remember my late father going into hospice and getting a letter from social security losing my benefits as well as dealing with one of the most toughest customers at work all on the same day.I could have killed myself that night. But what did I do instead? I wrote an article on Thought Catalog because writing is one of my gifts with autism. And autism might be the cure for what made me a writer.I don’t write about politics so don’t worry. A man can get up on stage tomorrow and have butterflies in his stomach about the art of public speaking. But depending on the autistic person, can autism be the cure to overcome your fears about the art of public speaking.Autism and my idol Shania Twain were the cures to avoid stage fright in public speaking. There’s a new TV series on Netflix called “Love on the Spectrum” about autistics who have the desire to be in love. These are unique people to go on a TV show and their autism might be  the cure. Autism can’t be cured but can autism be the cure?

Why I Chose Self-Employment as a Person With Autism

Finding jobs on the autism spectrum is hard. Imagine going into an interview and telling your potential employer that you have autism. What are they going to think? Will they hire me? Will they reject me because of the word “autism?” Even if they hire me, are they going to treat me the same as all the other employees there? I get the job and I show up to work every day, always on time, always well dressed, always have good hygiene, and perform to the best of my ability. But because I might not be able to read people as easily and perform tasks more slowly, I’m going to be judged at the workplace no matter what. What if I have to go to the mental hospital one day because my medication is off or something? Is my boss going to be supportive as well as my coworkers? What if I need to work fewer or different hours due to my disability for doctor appointments, self-care, and other things I need to do? Is my boss going to work with me? I could get a warehouse job but I’d have to work long hours and not all of them offer benefits. I could get a customer service job, but I have trouble reading people at times. I could get a janitorial job but I don’t want to clean toilets and lobbies for a living unless I have to or else I won’t feel valued in the world. What are my other options? Well, here’s an idea some people with disabilities are taking. Self-employment! You’re the boss, you pick your hours, you have no co-workers to judge who you are, and you can make a decent living off certain self-employment jobs out there today. I took the self-employment route as a rideshare driver because I love to drive. I also do delivery driving once in a while. I’m working on a full time writing and motivational speaking career. I did this because I struggled to find a boss who understands my needs, and I struggled to find coworkers who understand I have trouble reading people at times. I can work at my pace and not be judged, and I feel valued. If you seriously can’t find employment as a person on the autism spectrum, self-employment is an option!

Doing Media Interviews as a Person With Autism

I recently had a podcast interview with Fully Booked by Kirkus Media about my book “Love Is Too Hard: The Dating (Mis)Adventures of a Man With Autism.” I’ve also done a couple of appearances on a local talk show called PA Live. I get so excited when I have to do interviews. However, when it comes time to do the interview thousands or even millions are going to see, I get very nervous. I have trouble processing language as a person on the autism spectrum. I also struggle with memory problems at times. That prevents me from being fully successful when doing podcasts or other types of media interviews. It’s never my intention to be a bad guest on a podcast, TV show, or any other type of media interview. I just get very nervous. I also don’t always understand the interviewers’ questions. With my most recent podcast interview, I said “yeah” and it might have unintentionally come out wrong. I also accidentally interrupted the interviewer on one of her questions. Once again, not my intention. I had an interview recently with a blog and I didn’t fully understand the questions sent to me. I was very nervous on my first PA Live appearance and I also had a head cold. I get better each time, but I tend to always struggle with media interviews and I don’t want my audiences to think I’m a bad person or I’m not trying to be helpful. If you struggle with the same, you are not alone.

Working Customer Service as a Man With Autism

I’ve worked in customer service as a person with autism for a long time. It had its ups and downs. I have good customer service skills, but it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. This is my day job while I’m working towards being a self-employed full-time author and motivational speaker. A lot of customers come through the door every day. And they often don’t understand me. They tend to think I don’t want to do my job. They are sometimes impatient with me. As a person with autism, I have trouble processing language. If they talk too fast, I can’t process what they’re saying. At times I need them to explain what exactly they’re saying to me so I can understand how to help them. At times I also need them to repeat themselves. At times I repeat myself so I understand what I’m doing for the customer. A lot of times I get awkward and don’t want to be social with the customer. A lot of times I need to get my supervisor to help me with them and what all parties don’t understand is that I’m trying. I get nervous when a customer yells at me. All of that is because I have autism, which I don’t want to tell the customer, and they don’t understand because they don’t know. I never yell back, but I don’t take it lightly when I can’t help a customer and they start yelling at me over it. Then after work is over, I come home drained. My mental health starts to decline almost every night when I come home. I try taking my medicine and watching YouTube videos as a coping skill, but it doesn’t work all the time. My suggestion to people with autism working in customer service: don’t overthink things. Ask your supervisor about what you can do to improve your job. Be patient. You should not get fired for the majority of things you struggle with. Don’t be rude to the customer or yell. Make sure you’re doing things right. And most of all, try to enjoy your job and go to work.

Transitioning to a New Job as Someone With Autism

Let’s say you have worked at a job for a lot of years as a person with autism. You have been very successful at that job. You like your work environment, your job description and your coworkers. However, you are thinking about moving on to a new job. It might be because you’re tired of the same job. You might want a new challenge or a new skill. Or you might even be tired of your coworkers after all. Transitioning to a new job can be hard for someone with autism. From experience, I transitioned from warehousing to a call center collections job because I was tired of getting dirty at a warehouse all day long. A lot of people with autism don’t like to be dirty, and I was one of them. It was a risk, because I was doing decently at a warehouse for three years and decided to do something very different I wasn’t sure I’d be good at. I did the transition and I liked a lot about my next job, including pay, benefits, coworkers, my boss and the clean environment. It was a long commute, but that wasn’t the problem. The work was the problem. I hated calling people up for eight straight hours and asking them for money. It took a huge toll on me mentally and I didn’t last six months. If this is ever you, I would recommend talking to your friends, family and job coach about potential new jobs. They know you best and they can guide you based on your skills. You should always be willing to try it, but be careful, especially if you have a family to feed, rent to pay or high bills. Make sure you leave your previous job on good terms and give two weeks’ notice — if the new job doesn’t work out, they might take you back. However, your goal is a new job. Think about what you would like or not like to do in a job. Would you like to work with customers? Would you not like to work with customers? Would you like to do demanding labor like warehousing? Would you like to do janitorial work? Visualize the person you think you are and what you think you can handle while looking for a new job as someone on the autism spectrum. Good luck!

Having Sex as a Man With Autism

What could be an important factor when you’re in a romantic relationship with someone? It’s something you almost certainly start thinking about at some point in your life, whether it’s as a teenager in high school or young adult. You might watch it in movies and learn about it in high school. The word is “sex.” But what do men with autism think when it comes to sex? They might get nervous. I was nervous when I first started thinking about sex. I remember in college, someone asked me what a condom was. When I said I didn’t know, I felt embarrassed and I was ashamed. I was a virgin at that time as well. As I developed as a man with autism, I did start to desire sex and I have talked to other men with autism who desire it as well. Of course some don’t, because every man with autism is different about this topic. I get hesitant and nervous each time I’ve had sex, because I don’t want an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Also, I fear my partner might judge me if they don’t think I’m good at it. I’ve been sexually active and I was very cautious with both partners, having protection with condoms and the women said they were on birth control. If you are a man with autism who wants to have sex and have never had it, I get how you feel. You are a normal man. If your partner makes a sexual reference or tries to sext with you in a text conversation and you don’t understand what they mean, you’re not alone. When you do have a partner to have sex with, don’t force it. Make sure all sex is consensual. Agree with your partner on when you can have it. Tell your partner your needs related to autism before having sex, like how touching, germs and different kinds of sensations feel to you. They should know that before having sex with you. People with autism have sex and have sexual desires like anyone else!

When a Stranger Asked, 'Do You Have Autism?'

I was at a bar one time and I was nothing but sober. I remember this young woman needing a ride home and I was going in the same direction as her. I offered her the ride if she would give me gas money. She agreed and I gave her the ride. On the way to her destination, she was adjusting the volume of the radio and I asked her twice if there was a specific channel she wanted to hear. Then she asked me something surprising, “Do you have autism?” I nervously replied, “Yes.” Her question came out of the middle of nowhere. I have never been asked that by someone in public in my entire life. She proceeded to ask me a bunch of questions and wanted to get to know me, telling me that she works with people with autism. She also told me she loves people with autism. I was flattered to hear everything she had to say. She kept saying how proud she was of me for driving a car and everything else I’ve accomplished in my life, such as graduating college, finding work and living on my own. I also told her I’m pursuing a career as a full-time autism advocate. She admired that too. At the end of the ride she wanted to tell me a quick story, then asked if she could give me a hug. I gave her the hug and then she went in her house. This ride made me feel good and it felt good that people can get a positive impression of me. All I had to do was be honest and be myself without fearing being judged. And I had nothing but a huge smile on my face at the end. I know this can be a very personal question for a person with autism. You can answer it at your own discretion. If you don’t want to answer it, don’t. I think it’s better not to get angry at them regardless of your response. I know it’s hard, but one of the ways to promote awareness is to be honest. I have autism and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Going on Job Interviews as a Person With Autism

You have been looking for a job as someone on the autism spectrum. You got your resume built up of all your education, including your high school and college credentials. If you had jobs before, you listed all of your experience from all the jobs you have ever worked. You listed all your skills on your resume and how many years you’ve had them. They might include customer service, working under pressure, basic math, basic computer skills etc. The employer who looked at your resume contacts you to come in for an interview. Congratulations! You are on your way to getting a job. But you might be nervous, which is normal for someone on the autism spectrum or anyone interviewing for a job. If you have a job coach, they can help you prepare for the interview. You can also try to arrange for your job coach to go to the interview with you. Dress nice for the interview. Sometimes the employer will request how you should dress for the interview, but the majority of the time it’s business casual or professional attire. When you get to the interview, ask for the name if you’re know who exactly you’re meeting with or just say you’re here for an interview. Stay calm and wait for the interviewer to come out. When they come out, smile and shake their hand. Walk calmly into the room or area and have a seat. Keep your hands and feet still while making eye contact at all times. This helps the interviewer know you’re eager for the job. The first thing they might ask you is to tell them about yourself. Tell them your employment history if you have any, where you went to school and stuff like that. Stay calm the entire time, no matter what. They’ll most likely ask you at the end of the interview “Do you have any questions for me?” and if you do, ask them. If you don’t, don’t worry about it too much because I have been offered jobs even if I don’t ask questions. Shake their hand, thank them, tell them it’s a great opportunity and that you’re interested. Be polite when walking out. Wait for a couple of days or a week. Follow up only once. Within a week or so they should follow up with you, whether you got the job or not. If you get it, congratulations! If you didn’t, work on what you think you can do better the next time. Your job coach can help you if you have one. Good luck on your interviews!