By Ron Sandison
“I believe that everyone should explore the world to make their dreams come true, and if you need help along the way then ask for help and get partners who have the same passion and are willing to support your mission!” Mike DiMauro- an Autistic Advocate
Mike DiMauro and I are advisory board members for the Els for Autism in Jupiter, Florida. I met up with Mike in October at the Michigan Autism Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Mike presented a poster on Driving & Traveling with Autism, while I presented a breakout session on Empowering Children with Autism & Learning Challenges.
While traveling to the conference, Mike visited the Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, the iconic house from Home Alone at 671 Lincoln Ave, and Soldier Field. He added the three states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois to his list of Uber Eats deliveries and only needs to deliver in eighteen more to achieve his goal.
I was excited to hear Mike’s inspiring story, cool sites he traveled, and his quest to Uber in every state. A late diagnosis at age twenty-two empowered Mike to understand life and his struggles with employment and making friends. As a child, Mike was diagnosed with developmental delay and he experienced teasing from bullies. “When I received an Autism diagnosis, the mystery was solved, and I understood why I experienced struggles in life and sensory issues with loud and sudden sounds. I decided to find resources and groups online of other young adults with Autism.”
As an adult diagnosed with Autism, Mike discovered Autism to be his super power and his quest is to help others on the spectrum to get out and explore the world. “America’s national parks are amazing and filled with wildlife. As a child my passion was traveling and camping in the RV. I loved seeing moose in Alaska, riding rollercoasters at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, and eating tasty seafood in Cape Cod. Traveling can help people with Autism enjoy new experiences and make friends as they explore the world.”
Uber Eats has provided Mike with a steady income and the freedom to be his own boss. “I had difficulty with job interviews and lacked eye contact. I found many supervisors lacked an understanding of autism and wanted to hire people with more experience. But how can you get experience unless someone is willing to hire you. Even with a bachelors degree from Westfield State University, I still struggled to a acquire fulltime employment. Delivering for Uber Eats, I can set up my own hours and meet cool people. I also can travel and work anywhere in the country.”
Four tips Mike shares with people on the spectrum struggling with employment
“First, get a job doing something your good at and you enjoy. If you like to cook, get a job as a chef or if you love to drive, get a job doing Uber Eats or driving a truck. Second, for jobs requiring experience do volunteer work related to that field of employment which you hope to get hired. Third, be a loyal employee by always giving 110% at work. This work ethic will bring you promotions. Finally, make sure you arrive on time to work. This requires you to leave early because you don’t know when a traffic jam may occur.”
When Mike was seventeen years old, he got his driver’s license. “My mom got a job twenty-two miles from my school and this required me to learn to drive so I could get to school. Learning to drive is like learning to ride a bike, it takes practice and feeling comfortable behind the wheel. The more you drive the more comfortable you feel.”
Four tips Mike gives to individuals learning to drive
“First, stay calm, don’t get anxious by traffic or distracted. When driving leave plenty of time to get there. Second, driving a car is not a video game. If you go over a cliff you could die so please drive safe. Third, when learning to drive start by only driving short distances like the store or mall
and after you feel comfortable go on fun road trips or camping vacations. Finally, be both a safe and smart driver. A safe driver obeys the laws, they don’t speed, and stop at red lights. A smart driver watches out for potholes and takes weather conditions into consideration like snow and ice.”
Mike’s hometown is Agawam, Massachusetts and only a few miles from Springfield the birthplace of basketball and Dr. Seuss. “My passion is traveling and history and Agawam provides both history and great food and only a few miles from Holyoke the birthplace of volleyball. We have the greatest NFL team the New England Patriots with 6 Super Bowls wins led by Tom Brady. As a child growing up in a tourist state, I would remember license plates numbers.”
After college, Mike worked at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and he decided to move into an apartment there. “Disney World gave me the opportunity to make friends from around the world. In Orlando, I have a great support team who understands Autism and can provide me with any extra help I may need.”
A few years later, while stopped at a red light, Mike’s inspiration to Uber Eats occurred. “I was stopped at a red light in New Jersey and had an Aha moment, ‘There’s this huge country and it needs to be explored and you never know when you won’t be able to do it. So I made up my mind, I would explore every state by doing Uber Eats.”
As Mike Uber Eats in each state, he advocates to his customers and those he meets by sharing the struggles we on the spectrum experience. “Autism does not end when you become an adult, autism does not go away. I advocated in the past by doing Autism walks and now I advocated by Eber Eats deliveries.”
Mike is quickly reaching his goal to Uber Eats in every state and has already traveled to 32 states. You can help him reach his goal by donating at: https://linktr.ee/mikedimauro
Mike DiMauro’s Bio
Mike was diagnosed with Autism at age 22 and is an Autism advocate with a bachelors degree from Westfield State University. He is an avid traveler and on a quest to Uber Eats in every state. Mike is an advisory board member of Els Autism in Jupiter, FL and resides in Orlando, FL.
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom, published by Charisma House and Thought, Choice, Action. Ron has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes. Ron’s third book Views from the Spectrum was released in May 2021.
Ron frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016.
You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at email@example.com