Jesse Saperstein is an author, speaker, and autism advocate.Autism is something that is near and dear to his heart because he has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.
He is also a leader in the antibullying movement, and in 2012, completed his first skydiving jump that he called “Free-Falling to end Bullying”.
I talked to Jesse to get his perspective on both bullying and autism travel.
What attracted you to skydiving to make a statement against bullying?
It is close to my home so people that know me will show up to express their support.It is also receives more publicity since people know me and like my work.
What brought you to skydiving?
It’s to keep in good shape.
I also do power walking that helps me maintain my weight and be healthy. Adventure sports attract more attention from media, so I thought that would be a great platform for me to try and further challenge myself.
When people suffer from a visible disability, people are more merciful and take a different perspective to those who have invisible ones. Being ignored as a person with hidden disabilities is a subtle form of bullying.
People with invisible disabilities are perceived as being weird, and I’m out to prove to the world that we just want to be accepted and that it society should meet people like us halfway since there is so much more to us than just our label.
How did travel impact your life?
Travel made me less reluctant to try new thing.
As an autistic; you always want to stay in familiar territory as it is your comfort zone, but you should and need to prove that you are capable of accomplishing certain things. You need to have the foresight and always focus on the bigger picture, so I learned to get delayed rather than instant gratification when I set to do something.
Unfortunately, in today’s travel world reality you don’t necessarily get what you want at the speed you want it.Many times you need to wait for flights, or your turn in places like theme parks or restaurants.
However, you can turn that flaw into a strength if you work on it and use it to accomplish objectives. Now I’m better and more patient as I understand that it will help me get from point A to B.
I also learned that putting yourself in new positions teaches you a lot about life even when your outcome isn’t positive, so I fear the unknown less and try to remind myself that life is a learning curve especially when you are away from home.
What’s your favorite type of vacation?
I love slow paced vacations where I don’t feel under pressure to rush through anything.
I don’t take many vacations, especially now as an adult. I do get to travel places to promote my book, but I don’t regard that as an actual holiday,
I enjoy taking cruises since continuous eating and lazing on the beach combo is fun for me.
My last vacation was with my family in 2009 to Del Rey Beach, but we had to attend a funeral. When I go on more vacations, I will definitely seek more adventure-based ones.
I advise parents and adult with autism to have a plan A and B when planning travel. What’s your take on that?
I always look at the bigger picture instead of the details, so if a plan doesn’t work, I’m not that phased.
I try to think of some motivation instead of dwelling on what went wrong.
For example, when I travel on my book tour and I get a lousy seat on the airplane, or I dislike the hotel I’m staying in, I remind myself that my publisher is paying for it and that I get to meet more of my readers and promote my book.
As an Aspergerian, I do understand the dire consequences of meltdowns on flights for instance, so I try to occupy myself and not bother anyone.
Did I mention ,I’ve had an incident when I missed my flight and security had to accost me off the gate as I was not acting appropriately.Now THAT taught me a lot.