Michael Goodroe

What Autism Gave Me: Author, Martial Arts, & Inspiring Story

Season  1Episode  1444 MinutesFebruary 14, 2024

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Get ready to be swept away by the remarkable story of Michael Goodroe, a man who has defied the odds and risen above the challenges of autism to become a published author and third-degree black belt. From being told he would never utter a word to becoming a source of inspiration for countless individuals, Michael’s story is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

In our newest episode, Michael takes us on a journey through his early years marked by confusion, navigating the unwavering support of his family, and discovering an unexpected passion for martial arts. With raw honesty and profound insight, he peels back the layers of his life, revealing the trials and triumphs that have shaped him into the person he is today.

Jeff Hopeck and Michael GoodroeWhether he’s captivating audiences with his powerful speeches, pushing his limits in CrossFit, or crafting his next literary masterpiece, Michael’s unwavering determination and remarkable achievements shine brightly, illuminating a path of hope for others facing similar challenges. Get ready to be moved and inspired as Michael shares his extraordinary story with Jeff Hopeck and all of us.


Key takeaways from Michael:

  1. Inspire others. Be a beacon of hope and inspiration to others.
  2. Offer unwavering support to anyone who needs it.

 

Tune in to hear more inspiring stories from fascinating individuals.

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Timestamps:

0:00 – An Autism Success Story

4:49 – Autism, Martial Arts, and Special Education

20:36 – College Experience and Post-Graduation Challenges

25:44 – Autism, Speeches, and Overcoming Challenges

38:42 – CrossFit HEW and Future Plans

43:50 – Incredible Inspiration


Show Transcript

Speaker 1: 

Funny thing. I remember there’s a story I was struggling with Taito because I wasn’t. I don’t have strong endurance, I would just be, I would just be, you know, like tired. And my dad says, come on, Michael, it’s not that hard. And I said with all conviction, if it’s so easy, you do it, as any, as any son would do. Dad decided to to do Taito because he wanted to get good at gymnastics, to be you know, for his own personal health. Sure, he didn’t go to, he was a white belt, Didn’t go to any other classes except Friday gymnastics and probably stay a white belt forever if he could. But then he gets promoted to straight to purple.

Speaker 2: 

Whoa, All right, folks, welcome to another episode here of Interesting Humans. Today I have with me Michael Goodrow, Michael’s 36 years old. Thanks for being here, buddy. Thank you for having me and I’m glad to be here. Thanks so much. And a couple episodes ago, folks to tie this all together, we had on Michael’s parents, Joan and Mike Goodrow, and they shared their incredible story of when young Michael here was just four years old and diagnosed with severe autism. The medical community not one, not two, multiple, I think, was six to six to eight medical professionals, right.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah that sounds about right Said that Michael is barely in a talk throughout his life. And sitting right here with me today, folks, is a remarkable story, truly a miracle. Michael’s number one, a published author. Number two, a third degree black belt yes, third degree black belt at Taito. He’s going to share just his story, his adventure, and it’s sweet, it’s beautiful, and I’m really grateful to be here with you, mike, and share this story. So thank you again. Why don’t you start off, mike? Let’s, let’s, let’s, hear all about your, let’s dive into your book first.

Speaker 1: 

OK, Well, my book. What Autism Gave Me. You know it was a interesting tale. You know, when I was suggested the idea that I write the book, it was 2015. I had done, I was the keynote speaker at Jackson, at Jacksonville University of Alabama, not Florida, OK, and Valerie, the head of the special needs department, came up to me and said you know, Michael, you should write a book.

Speaker 1: 

Now I it sort of went in one ear out the other. I didn’t pay much mind to it because I knew I couldn’t do it by myself, it would have taken forever. So but the idea stuck in my mom, my mom, and she said, Michael, we need to do this. And I said, mom, it’ll take me forever, I can’t do this on my own. And she said, well, then I’ll help you, like I always did. Wow it. And Valerie even even writes a forward in my book about, about meeting me and and telling and talking about it. And you know so, yeah, so my mom basically helped with a lot of the research, helped me with my writing, you know it. It I was very, I was very proud that that. You know, we did embellish some stuff, but you know, you know so, but you know it was you know a lot of it really did happen?

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, absolutely All right, let’s. Let’s go back, let’s go all the way back to young Michael to tell us some of the the, the memories you might have childhood memories.

Speaker 1: 

Well, ok, very simple. Most of my memories are pretty happy. Now, I didn’t know I was autistic at all, like you know. I knew I was different, but I didn’t think I was very different. I thought I was like every other child child. So you know my parents, when I told my parents that they were surprised, I used, you know, but then again I was never. Another thing was that I had to do like I had to. I would. They would sign me up for like tutoring classes to like help me catch up, which I never really understood why I did it. So you know again, I wasn’t a very bright child, yeah.

Speaker 2: 

When, when. So you said a key phrase there. You said when you told your parents, what exactly did you tell your parents?

Speaker 1: 

Well, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me growing up. Ok, you know I I was. I just thought I was like every other child, I’ll. So, you know. Oh they, you know I also thought all those testing I had to do, I didn’t understand why I did it. Yeah, you know. You know I, again, I wasn’t very observant. So you know I’m not. I never put two and two together.

Speaker 2: 

Right, yeah, it makes sense until way, until later in life, right, Right, ok, so you had your parents mentioned something very, very interesting when you were going into kindergarten and they they talked about just you having trouble finding schools to get into.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah.

Speaker 2: 

Like one after another would say no, and would say no, and would say no, and then finally they they found a school, yes, ok, tell us a little about that school that they found Well.

Speaker 1: 

Mill Springs Academy was a school for children with extreme behavioral problems. If you read the book, I talked about how, first day there for the interview process, they were tying, they were strapped. They were tying a kid in a straight jacket. I didn’t see it. My parents wanted me not to look, so I wasn’t really paying attention to that, right.

Speaker 2: 

Right, because that would be, that would be weird.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah, so I, I met with the principal, or headmaster, at private school. So you know they don’t call him principal, they call him headmaster. I met with the headmaster and his mother there. You know they they talked about something, but you know it was so long ago I I barely remember what we talked about, but my parents were impressed that that they said yes to me, sure, and then you stayed there.

Speaker 2: 

That was kindergarten. You started. What are some memories?

Speaker 1: 

Well, actually it was first grade, first grade to 12. Ok, and you stayed all 12 years Yep. It was the only school that it was the best school for me, right.

Speaker 2: 

Do you know, when you look back to happen to know your parents mentioned that, like early on, when you were diagnosed, they didn’t really have much for it. They didn’t have as much as they have today Assistance and help, etc. Do you happen to know when that sort of started? Not really. Was it were you in fifth grade were you in ninth grade?

Speaker 1: 

OK, so not, not really, and you know I don’t really have a clear idea of when all that support and stuff like that started to become big. But you know, around the time I was in college, the rate of children with autism rate was higher than when I was a kid. Sure yeah, much higher. And you know, I was in college in the late 2000s. Since, and by the time I was out of college, you know, kids with autism was becoming more common. And again, my mom thought it would be good for me to tell my story. So it started with with me talking at the CDC, where I was, where I was part of a panel of questions, where I was part of a panel talking about our struggles.

Speaker 2: 

What year was that?

Speaker 1: 

I would say that would be 2014. Teen, when I started that.

Speaker 2: 

Okay, so you’re on a panel. What other types of folks were on the panel with you?

Speaker 1: 

Well, other autistic people? Okay, and it was hosted by Alexis Weinman, a former Miss America. She didn’t be Miss America, but she was a pageant contestant. Okay, and she is autistic.

Speaker 2: 

What year was that?

Speaker 1: 

Again 2014.

Speaker 2: 

I know, sorry, what year was she a pageant contestant. Yeah, I don’t remember that’s cool. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember special.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah special.

Speaker 2: 

Special part of the story. So okay, so you, you were on the panel. Anything special come from it.

Speaker 1: 

Well, I actually enjoyed it a lot, you know. You know I love being the center of attention and I love talking, and so you know it was a lot of fun and people liked me because, well, I was just my energetic self.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, right, which is just incredible to be in the room with. I’ve been in the room so many times with you getting you know at parties in the corner you and I get off on you know 62 different times and I just love it Just. We’ve talked about so many things over the years. So, yeah, because our bond it’s my wife. Just again, I’ll sidetrack here for the listeners. My wife and you and your father were in karate for years.

Speaker 2: 

My wife’s in 30 plus years now. Yeah, so you all met there and that bond has been tight over the years. So okay, special, so you do the CDC. Mike, were you interested in any kind of sports?

Speaker 1: 

Not traditional sports. I mean, I loved martial arts. That was a sport for me. Another sport, another sport was horseback riding. I did that when I was a kid, but you know most of high school and college I didn’t really do too many sports. I mean, I tried weightlifting and I did weightlifting in college, but that’s pretty much the extent of my athletics. Again, I was more of a nerd. I played video games and was indoorsy.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, but you know, I do like sports.

Speaker 1: 

I love baseball. You know, I love baseball, go Braves.

Speaker 2: 

Awesome, we’re actually having Jeff Frankors coming on.

Speaker 1: 

Oh, wow.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, wow, so he’ll be sitting right where you’re at. Wow, that is awesome, isn’t that cool? Yes, yeah, and then we got some others After that you’ll be interested in as well. So awesome, okay, cool. Your parents told an unbelievably fascinating story. I know I’ve never heard it told before. The story of how you got into martial arts. Yeah, did they give you the details of it? You know just you know what you know.

Speaker 1: 

Well, I had always loved stuff like Teenage Mutant Ninja, turtles and Power Rangers and stuff like that, and my parents were told that martial arts could help with a child’s brain and motor skills develop. So you know, at first they tried, they tried, they tried another karate, they tried other karate schools, but I was too wily and undis and I was too wily to to stick with it. So they found they stumbled to Taito and back then Taito. You know I used to live in Peach Street corner, so you know Taito was very easy to get to, yeah, couple minutes, yeah. And the thing is it, even though I was still my wily self, I still liked it and I kept coming back and even though I struggled, mitsaki, mitsaki, the, the head teacher’s son, actually came to my house and helped me with my own soku hapo, something I had real struggle with.

Speaker 2: 

What move? What move is that?

Speaker 1: 

Well, you know it’s this series of movements, you know, you know we, where we basically go forward, back, make a diagonal, oh then go back and then kick. You know it’s. It’s like a small kata, if you will Like a form.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, it’s a small form. Okay, that’s what an soku hapo is. Okay, so he came to your house.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah.

Speaker 2: 

Incredible and just helped you through it. Yeah, what’d you do? What kind of stuff did he do with?

Speaker 1: 

you Well, mostly stretching, you know we did, we did techniques. I, I, I needed to catch up on, you know I was again. I struggled, you know it. It back then it took me longer to to get good at something. I mean, it still takes me longer, but not as long as when I was a kid. Yeah, and they’re.

Speaker 1: 

they’re a degree now. That’s awesome. I just kept going because you know I made so many wonderful friends and you know I I really liked it it so you know it just became a part of my life.

Speaker 2: 

Sure, and at some point your dad took an interest Also about that.

Speaker 1: 

Well, funny thing, I remember there’s a story my dad once told at summer camp I was struggling with Taito because I wasn’t, you know, I didn’t always have strong. Well, even today I don’t have strong endurance, or, or, you know, and I would just be breathe, I would just be, you know, like tired and sure, always breathing all that. You know hyperventilating, not you know getting, you know getting drained easily. And my dad says, come on, michael, it’s not that hard. And I said, with all conviction, if it’s so easy, you do it.

Speaker 2: 

As any, as any son would do. That’s awesome. So you challenged him. And then what?

Speaker 1: 

Well, years later dad decided to to do Taito because he wanted to get good at gymnastics, to be, you know, like for his own personal health. He didn’t go to, he was a white belt, didn’t go to any other classes except Friday gymnastics he was. That was his plan. He was never gonna, he was never gonna get. He was never gonna go to any other class except gymnastics and probably stay a white belt forever if he could. But then he gets promoted straight to purple.

Speaker 2: 

Whoa, is that the next one? Yeah, okay, next one, right in line. He didn’t skip one, right Right.

Speaker 1: 

No, no, he. He skipped white, red, white green and white gold. You know, the, the stripes, that, that that we have, and he went straight to purple. Yeah, and you at the time I was, I, I was, uh, uh, I. I think I was a first degree back then. Wow Then, or I was brown, black you know dad you know, dad started when I was a teenager and then he started having to go to regular class and after his first class he’s like you know, he’s like really tired and you know, like you know, it’s like there wasn’t better understanding between us Right, right, because he had Difficult it is, oh special, all right, so, taito, then college, I want to.

Speaker 2: 

I want to hone in on college because you’re they. They also told an incredible story about college. Yeah, um, that they basically had, like, how did that, how did that work? Tell me how that was.

Speaker 1: 

Okay Now, uh, my test scores were below the average to get in, were below the minimum to get into to a lot of colleges. My guidance counselor recommended I try a junior college and I didn’t like any of the junior colleges that she recommended. Okay, but I saw, but, as if fate, I saw a poster for University of West Georgia’s music program that I could get in through a singing scholarship and I was actually a decent singer. Oh well, I still am. I still sing. I just not as much. But yeah, point is, I auditioned for the head of the music, the music department, without telling him my my SAT scores until after the audition. That’s awesome.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah.

Speaker 1: 

He went to the board of admissions to get me an exemption to get in. Wow, they thought, why not? This kid’s going to wash out before his first semester, so we’ll, we’ll just humor him.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, little did they know.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah I, I couldn’t quit, right, I didn’t have anywhere else to go. Sure, I didn’t have other options.

Speaker 2: 

I didn’t have time when? Where were you at with, with autism?

Speaker 1: 

Well, again, it wasn’t until like my second semester that it that it started, that I started to understand what. What was the deal with me Now? Now, I had heard that I had learning disabilities, but I, I just didn’t understand what that meant. You know, I just took, I just took that and that was it. And then, when I, just for a public speaking course, we had to find a subject, you know some people chose, like obesity, abortion, you know, subjects they want, they were passionate about that they felt that they wanted to talk about for their public speaking. I chose autism because, you know, I wanted to understand more about what was going on in me. What autism was. I had no idea what it was.

Speaker 2: 

Right, so you choose that. And then what? At that time, when you had to make that choice did? Did you know like? Were you, do you know of the diagnosis that happened, or were you just sort of like, guessing at it? Yes, I waited a long time, I was guessing at it, you were guessing at it and you happened to guess at autism.

Speaker 1: 

Well, no I. I just thought I’d talk about my learning disabilities and stuff like that, yep. I mean, I, I had, I, I knew what it was from what my parents told me, but I had no idea the extent. I, like you, know it’d be like if someone told you, like a pretzel is a type, a pretzel is a type of bread, but not tell you how to make pretzels.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah Right, that that’s a bad metaphor, but but I think we all get it. Yeah, you don’t know the rest, you didn’t know the recipe, you just knew the outcome. You knew it was a cake, but you didn’t know the ingredients.

Speaker 1: 

Right? Is that a yeah yeah?

Speaker 2: 

That’s a bad way to say it. Okay, yeah, makes sense. So you do your. What’d you find out when you did your speech?

Speaker 1: 

Well, I found out that autism affects people. You know how it affects people. You know they’re they’re. It’s like their brains aren’t really connected. Like you know, there’s certain information that they’re missing but that they have to learn on themselves, whereas some people just have certain things just built right into them.

Speaker 2: 

Any one or two things stand out for you. You look back at life and said, oh, now that makes sense, cause now that I understand autism more, now it makes sense why I did X, y or Z.

Speaker 1: 

Looking back, Well, you know, I, I, I couldn’t really tell you off the top of my head. Yeah, no problem, I can’t, I’m, I’m, I’m trying, but you know, nothing’s coming to me.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, no problem at all. No worries, can you tell us some highlights or something cool that happened on your, your, your speech?

Speaker 1: 

Um well, um, I got a, I got a round, I got a round of applause and and a standing and one standing ovation not the whole class but like, yeah, uh, I, I really liked public speaking and you know it was, you know, because I always wanted to be an actor.

Speaker 2: 

Right, right, yeah, you did mention that. So that, so that was your sophomore year in college. Yes, okay, and you have two more years to go. What did you? What?

Speaker 1: 

did you study Well, actually?

Speaker 2: 

I three, Okay, three, three to go.

Speaker 1: 

I I didn’t go to college for four. I went to college for five.

Speaker 2: 

Oh, you didn’t. Okay, that was my program. I did five too.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah, yeah. Well, uh, at first I was a music major, which only lasted a semester, uh, you know, due to my autism and my auditory processing skills, certain classes where you had to, uh, hear the tone of a music and then write. Write what tone, what, what note it was?

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, couldn’t get it, couldn’t get it. Oh yeah, that makes sense. Okay, so then you switched majors.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah, I switched majors. First I was undecided and I tried mass communications, but then you got to get. You have to have four years of four semesters, four, four semesters worth of language courses, and Japanese does. One year of Japanese does not count. So I went to history. I always had a passion for history, you know I I don’t know why you know I’ve always loved looking at the past, especially things like uh the the Sam, the era of the samurai. You know, warrior cultures were something I was really into to uh, samurai’s nights. Vikings yeah, things. Roman centurions. I love Rome, hmm, rome, it’s part of my family heritage my mom’s Italian, well, my mom’s half Italian.

Speaker 1: 

My grandmother is full Italian. She was from the island of Ischia, which is near Sicily.

Speaker 2: 

Got it Cool. Did that start after tie after you started Taito, or was that before tide? Was that always your love History after Taito after?

Speaker 1: 

I wonder if that had a little bit of um, maybe you know, in my teenage years, you know, on my second trip to Japan, I got really into samurai culture.

Speaker 2: 

You did, so you were, you did two tour, two trips to Japan, uh, actually three. All with Taito.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah, wow, 1998, that’s where I met Katie. Yeah, and we became friends then 2001, two months before 9-11.

Speaker 2: 

What was that one? What was that trip?

Speaker 1: 

for that was for that was to celebrate Taito’s anniversary. Oh and another tournament, and and then in 2018 went back to Japan.

Speaker 2: 

Ah, same thing, same sort of thing, though, with the school. Yeah and two. Okay, awesome, are you gonna be go? Are you going again?

Speaker 1: 

Maybe, maybe, haven’t decided. Yeah, I want to go to Japan on my own terms right, right, sort of see it.

Speaker 2: 

See it as you want eat where, you want travel where you want?

Speaker 1: 

I want to go to Tokyo Disneyland, yeah.

Speaker 2: 

What do you want to see there? Anything particular?

Speaker 1: 

well, I Actually heard there’s a new Beauty and the Beast ride. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie I. It was the first Disney film I ever saw in theaters. Oh wow, yeah, I was four years old when that came out.

Speaker 2: 

And that was really the start I remember your parents talking about for, or was really the start of Things in your like, when your parents really started looking into getting medical, you know, attention and all that sort of thing, right, right, was that around that era interesting? Okay, so you switch majors, right, and then you grew. What year did you graduate? Let’s see 2011, 20, okay, 2011, and you had a major in history. Okay, major in history minors, theater, theater. Okay, what did things look like for you then after college?

Speaker 1: 

Well, basically, with the economy the way it was, my prospects were, let’s say, less than zero. Okay, and you know, like that I, I had, you know, my all. I had a few strikes against me. Sure one, I was autistic, mm-hmm too. I had never had a job before because I focused more on my academics, right?

Speaker 2: 

right, so like no minimum wage, McDonald’s or Chick-fil-a or anything like that?

Speaker 1: 

No, because you know again, my parents, my parents, basically I was on scholarship so I was good and my parents wanted me to focus just on my academics because you know, cuz you know, you know it was hard enough to do homework and stuff like absolutely and study and so having a job would have just been Been another problem, right?

Speaker 2: 

at the time. Do you happen to remember, like let’s just say it would take, it would take somebody an hour to do a particular piece of homework? Was it taking you twice as long? Oh yeah, was it taking more?

Speaker 1: 

Sometimes okay, sometimes I would sit at my desk and look at my textbook for for hours and height in junior high and high school and I, I just couldn’t get it right.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, makes sense. So Touching on college just for one more moment. Your parents said that they pretty much read everything with you through all the years.

Speaker 1: 

Yes, my parents bought two sets of books, one for me, one for them, so that they could read with me and help me understand it.

Speaker 2: 

That’s awesome. I think it’s one of my favorite parts of the story. When they told me that, I think I’d like I think I started Just as a, as a father now, like if somebody told me that story before. Having children it’s one thing, but now having four kids and seeing it through that lens, it’s just. It’s incredible what a parent would go, would go through and not even question it and not even think like, oh, should I do this or not? It’s like done deal. So that’s, that’s neat. Okay, so you graduate. Then what actually happened? You had all the, the, the chips were against you, so to speak. Pretty much what happened.

Speaker 1: 

Well, my mom Called in a favor to my uncle and he was kind enough to get me a job at his company.

Speaker 2: 

Okay, which is what.

Speaker 1: 

A global administrative solutions. It’s a medical billing and coding company.

Speaker 2: 

Hey, global administration solutions and they’re local or Georgia, yeah, yeah they, yeah, and Woodstock, georgia, okay, and what happens there?

Speaker 1: 

well, I Get a taste for work and I don’t like it.

Speaker 2: 

Okay, so you didn’t like it. Then what happened?

Speaker 1: 

well, I just sucked it up and did it. Yeah, because you know I’m an adult and I have responsibilities.

Speaker 2: 

Now, right, Sort of like College in general for the, for the kids out there that can’t put two and two together as far as like, what am I even here for? This Doesn’t make sense. They don’t know they’re gonna be a doctor or what they’re gonna be in their lives. So you’re like why am I doing all this? You just open my eyes. There’s a reason why we do it because you might get out in your first job. You might hate it. Well, you hated going to college too, and now you were able to go back to your training, so to speak, and go alright. Well, it sucked, and I, you know I sucked it up and did it to go through school. Well, now I’ll do that with my job. So what was your first? What did they hire you for?

Speaker 1: 

Well, mostly miscellaneous office stuff. Do copies here, scan stuff here, enter stuff in the computer here. Here you know we mostly deal with. You know we mostly dealt with paper. You know, put this paperwork in the computer system, upload these files. You know I do a lot of Sure office, you know running around.

Speaker 2: 

How many years have you been there?

Speaker 1: 

Let’s see Almost 13 years. It’ll be 13 years this October this this August and you’re doing.

Speaker 2: 

There was a, there was a period of time when you’re doing some speaking. Tell us, tell us about that.

Speaker 1: 

Well, after I got my, after my book was published, more people wanted me. People read my book and they wanted me to do speaking Engagements. You know, I really liked, liked it, cuz you know I like getting up and performing in front of people again. I wanted to be an actor. So you know it’s pretty close to what, to what I wanted to do.

Speaker 2: 

Sure, that’s. Let’s talk that the title. The title of the book is what autism gave me Awesome, okay, because I want to make sure that we link out to it. So what autism gave me Okay, awesome. What kind of companies did you speak at and how did that go?

Speaker 1: 

Again, corporate events and Rotary Club. Corporate events, rotary Clubs. I’m like a motivational you know, like how some companies will hire a motivational speaker at an office party or something to like. Get this One of my speaking engagements. I was actually a last minute replacement for the For a speaker that canceled, and the speaker was none other than former governor Sonny Perdue Get out.

Speaker 2: 

That is so cool and that. What kind of place was that? That was a company, that was out.

Speaker 1: 

It was an electrical company, a subsidiary. My dad works in electricity and he’s part of a coalition. I spoke at the coalition. I even had breakfast with his board.

Speaker 2: 

Oh, that’s so special. So just to put this into perspective, folks, Michael, from a very early age, the medical community and again not just one doctor, we’re talking six plus Said that Michael barely speak in his life. And that’s what’s just so remarkable to sit here and just first off to have a conversation with you. It’s remarkable, it’s a miracle. According to the medical community, it’s a miracle.

Speaker 1: 

It wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. When I talked, I either parroted what I heard from television, and when I became more comfortable and started talking more, I would just dominate conversations. It’s a bad habit I have.

Speaker 2: 

We all have our own, so it’s good that you’re aware of it. So here you are. Now You’re the speaker in replacement for Sonny Perdue, and that’s just what makes the whole thing so incredible. This story just in and of itself. So that’s awesome. How did that? How did that go?

Speaker 1: 

Oh, it was actually really great. That was about it was 2019, about two months, two to three months before lockdowns where, where drove us all crazy.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, and it was. It was sunny Purdue, right? Yep, you said the governor, you said governor, but I’m just former governor, former governor, sunny Purdue Terrific. Okay, you have your speech. Do you have multiple? After that, you mentioned some other places you spoke at. What were those like?

Speaker 1: 

Well, you know, I used a similar, I used this, I used pretty much the same speech, so it would be consistent from place to place. Okay, you know, it’s very good. I always get an applause, some standing ovations, people love to congratulate me, which you know I’m really grateful for. But you know, honestly, I consider myself as a person. I consider myself lucky compared to other people with autism. I’ve heard other people with thought. I’ve heard the testimonials from other people with autism. I can you know outside, you know a lot of these people will have had it harder than me, like you know. So I was lucky because I had loving parents that were always in my corner and were helping me every step of the way. A lot of these people didn’t. I don’t know what I would have done without that, without the network I had. Right.

Speaker 2: 

So this, your speech, is perfectly relevant for audiences that have any kind of struggle in their life, any kind of obstacle in their life. Right, right, tell us a little bit about it, just package it up.

Speaker 1: 

Okay, well, again, I didn’t know. I was autistic, so whenever I faced hardships I just sucked it up and just kept going, because I thought that was normal. You’re going to fail. You know a lot of standardized. You know I had to take the SATs over three times just so I would get to the minimum, so I could go to the minimum, so I could go to college. Yep, you know how many of you have ever taken the SATs multiple times Me? Oh yeah, terrible score too Three. You know. Then the sad thing is you get 600 points just for signing your name Right. Mine was just 700. Yeah, yeah, so that, or is it 300 points? I can’t remember if it’s 600 or 300 points.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, either. But okay, so you get your 700. And then how does it like tie into when you’re giving your speech? How does that all tie together? What do you focus on? Do you focus on the motivating part of it? Yeah, if you know something.

Speaker 1: 

I focus on the fact that I had people that never gave up on me, that gave me chances when others didn’t, and you know I talked about the struggles I had. You know I couldn’t walk in a straight line, I couldn’t swing without help. I had atrocious balance when it came to talking. I would just parrot what I heard from movies and TV shows, and I and you know people would often have to tell me things multiple times for it to sink in. They still do sometimes, but I, you know it just maybe second or third time that I’ll get it.

Speaker 2: 

But you know Makes sense. What are some areas? I guess, if you look at a spectrum, what are some things that you feel you’re really excellent at, and maybe even ahead of the curve?

Speaker 1: 

Well, I would say, one thing I’m excellent at is my imagination. Yeah, tell us about that. Well, all my life I love to play, pretend. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be an actor. You get, you make a living playing pretend, yeah, and you know, and I love to make up adventures that I and play them out. When I was a kid, and you know, I thought, and as I got older, I thought, you know, I could be a storyteller. You know, I wasn’t a strong writer, but I was good at telling the story, so I thought I could make a living where I just tell someone’s stories and they just write it down. That that was, that was something I wanted. That was something I wanted to do. You know, I try. You know I started working right. I didn’t start like taking my writing seriously till after college because, again, I was busy with I was busy with my academics to work on my right.

Speaker 1: 

And you know, like there was not enough to work on my writing Right. But another thing I was good at is I’m very agreeable. You know I work. I can be a team player when I need to be. And another thing is my singing. My mom loved my singing and she would always have me sing in front of all her friends, even when I didn’t want to sometimes.

Speaker 2: 

You know like.

Speaker 1: 

I, you know how, how, you know how cats are moody, they’ll do something thing, but when you get, try to get them to do it, them do it. At that moment they don’t want to, right. I would say I was like that with singing, like I would sing by myself, I would sing just when I’m alone, or like or, or like just walking around, and then when mom would get me to sing in front of all her friends, I wouldn’t want to, right.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, is there anywhere we can link to your singing to show on YouTube or anything? No, no, no, wait, wait wait, there’s actually.

Speaker 1: 

there’s actually me singing traditional African folk song on my books, on my books, YouTube page from college.

Speaker 2: 

So we just type on? Do we just type in what autism gave me? Yeah, click on videos, I’m sure, and then check it out. Okay, awesome I want to make sure we link over to that.

Speaker 1: 

So that’s the whole video of me and my dad and my brother singing. Oh good yeah, Special.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, all right, where? Where are we at?

Speaker 1: 

Where are we at in life right now? Well, I’m just trying to get my speaking engagements back up again doing CrossFit. Oh, tell us a little about that. Well, back in 2022, in December, I did a speaking engagement at the gym. You know, I was taking what I can and my dad wanted me to get out and be more social, so he suggested I start doing it. So I so next, so by January of 2023, I started going. I didn’t like it, but you know I kept going. You know, because you know they’re nice people and and it’s and it’s good to work out. You know, get stronger and at my age I need to. I need to build up strength, sure.

Speaker 2: 

We all do right. That’s awesome, so you. So it’s CrossFit HEW. I think you said before. Yes In the beginning hard, hard exercise. What does that mean, HEW?

Speaker 1: 

Hard exercise works Awesome.

Speaker 2: 

Okay, so you do some speaking there. You’re regularly attending classes.

Speaker 1: 

Yeah, okay, three times a week Awesome.

Speaker 2: 

What else? What else is? Tell us more about life now. Are you still doing Tida?

Speaker 1: 

Yes, I still do it. Okay, yeah, I still do it. I’m not a fan. A lot of my friends have moved on, but you know I still like going Sure.

Speaker 2: 

Working. Are you working towards a fourth degree?

Speaker 1: 

Not really.

Speaker 2: 

Is that?

Speaker 1: 

how it works, or I’m. I just like working out. I don’t really care to get a fourth degree or not. Yeah, is your dad still doing it? Yes, awesome.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, he’s a fourth degree, he’s four. Four now, yeah, it’s special. So all right, you got CrossFit, any sports. No, no, no not really TV sports on TV. Any interest there?

Speaker 1: 

Well, you know, honestly, I, when it comes to watching sports on TV, I don’t really do that. I mean I’ll go to games, but that you know I won’t go out of my way to watch sports on TV, sure.

Speaker 2: 

You mentioned the Braves, right? Oh yeah, have you been to the new stadium?

Speaker 1: 

Oh yeah, I’ve been to Truist Park. What do you think of it? It’s really nice, it’s really beautiful.

Speaker 2: 

I’ve been to the kids section out behind left field. It’s remarkable with that zip line.

Speaker 1: 

Oh wow, the kids. Just I did not see that, but you know that sounds awesome, yeah, so it’s cool, it’s special.

Speaker 2: 

Okay, let’s go into a little bit about. What do you, what do you see? What is Michael seeing for the future? All things considered were exercised. What are things going to look like for you going forward? You’re 36 now.

Speaker 1: 

Yes, Well, honestly, I try not to plan too far for the future. I try to live day by day, kind of thing.

Speaker 2: 

Thing you know.

Speaker 1: 

I don’t really know where I’m going to go or what I’m doing, you know. But whatever happens, I’m going to face it. I’m going to face it.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, that’s awesome With work. Feel pretty pretty good there at work. Yeah, You’ll stay.

Speaker 1: 

It’s a good job, you know. You know it’s a good job. I like the people there. You know I like that. I work with my uncle.

Speaker 2: 

Oh, that’s nice. That’s really nice. How can listeners, if they want to, either buy a copy of your book maybe somebody’s out there that would love to have you come to speak at their company? How can they get people get in touch with you?

Speaker 1: 

Okay, well, my book is available to buy at Amazon, on Amazon, barnes and Noblecom and the Apple and the Apple Bookstore. My email address my email address for like corporate, for like events and stuff like that is on the back of my book.

Speaker 2: 

Okay, awesome, and it’s Michael. Let’s just say it real quick, just in case what?

Speaker 1: 

autism gave me at gmailcom All one word.

Speaker 2: 

Oh, that’s good that you got that. What autism gave me in gmailcom? Okay, great. And are you? Is there anything at all now that you’re doing with the book I think you talked about maybe?

Speaker 1: 

Yes, recently we’re trying to make an audio book to help reach more people, because, you know, I struggled with reading all my life and audio books are one of the only ways I can really enjoy books.

Speaker 2: 

Oh, that’s a terrific, what a terrific time now to go full circle and now have your own book audio. I like that. Okay, anything in the in the, the autism community that you’re doing.

Speaker 1: 

Nothing yet.

Speaker 2: 

Okay.

Speaker 1: 

I, I, I’m hoping to get more speaking engagements. I’ve done, you know I’ve done one or two with with autistic children. I spoke at a Montessori school for children. I’ve spoken at a Montessori school once. You know I, I, I’ve spoken more to adults than I do, kids, kids, but I hope I’ll get to kids soon. Good, you know it’s, it’s interesting reaching out to. You know I like to reach out to them and show them that. You know it’s important that children know that they that even though something is tough, it can be done Right, right, you know, if children, you know this were. You know this world is not all sunshine and rainbows, but that’s why we have to fight to to make the world better. You know we have to fight to make this world better.

Speaker 2: 

Yeah, it doesn’t just headshot, it’s just going to happen Right. Had you been just left, you certainly wouldn’t be sitting here today. If, if, if, if your mom and dad just listened to the doctors and said okay, fine, yeah, you, you wouldn’t be here, right, right, incredible. All right, mike, thanks so much for coming on today.

Speaker 1: 

It’s awesome.

Speaker 2: 

It was a pleasure just going through your life and your story for everybody out there listening. I’m inspired. I’m so incredibly inspired and just done an interview with your, with your folks and here in their journey and just again it keeps playing in my mind. I’m sitting here and interviewing somebody who’s who’s, according to the medical community, not even supposed to be saying a lot of words, and all you’ve done in life is just incredible. So I’m inspired. Folks, I hope you’re inspired as well. Michael Goodbro You’re. You’re listening to him on interesting humans podcast. Thank you so much for checking us out and if you got any kind of nuggets that you gleamed today from from our conversation, I encourage you, please. It would help us out a lot if you click the rating, no matter what platform you’re on, and gave us a review, a thumbs up or share us, share, follow anywhere out on social media. So thanks for joining and, michael, again, thanks for being here.

Speaker 1: 

Okay, thank you very much.

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