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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 29,712
Location: Long Island, New York

09 Aug 2022, 1:38 pm

Former NFL player Joe Barksdale diagnosed with adult autism

Former NFL player Joe Barksdale and his college sweetheart and now wife, Bri, are sharing their personal story after he was diagnosed with adult autism.

Joe says he could never really figure himself out until he watched a movie portraying a professional with autism. He and his wife had that "aha moment" that maybe he did, too.

Now during this National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, they're spreading the word about it.

Joe shares how he got the diagnosis.

"I was meeting with my therapist and talking to her about how I don't fit in with people. I don't always like being at social events because I always felt like I'm trying to be who I'm supposed to be, but one day, someone's going to figure out that I'm not. That was when she brought up the possibility of the autism diagnosis and how she works with other autistic clients and from there I was referred to a specialist and that's how I was diagnosed by the specialist," explains Joe.

He says it has helpful to get that diagnosis!

"It's very helpful - not just for the treatment, but also for the accommodations. I'm at the set of America's Got Talent right now, getting ready to help with the NFL players' choir with the singing and so forth. And knowing about the autism, that can help put myself in situations to be successful, in terms of not disrupting anything and also at the same time I'm able to prove to the world and hopefully try to take away from that stigma of people with autism only being able to do a limited number of things," says Joe.

He says it definitely impacted his high-profile career in the NFL, but he learned how to deal with it.

"Especially when you're talking about like your reactions to overstimulation and so forth and not being able to read facial expressions and not being socially adept. I would say it definitely was a barrier between myself and almost everybody in the world of football," states Joe.

Music has always helped Joe!

"Music has been a part of my life since I've been living. Whenever I was not able to explain how I was feeling, or what I was thinking, there was always a song. I've loved soul music since the first time I heard it and from there, I just branched out and listen to everything. That was one of the reasons I retired from the NFL to pursue a music career and I actually just won my first international music award last week," exclaims Joe.

The Grammys could be in his future, he laughingly adds.

"I'm just continuing to live life and trying to be positive. When you think about autism, you could think like, oh, you know, there's this guy. He seems cool," says Joe.

He's also working with the group, Autism Speaks.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Age: 59
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11 Aug 2022, 9:31 am

Thank you for sharing this. :D

I liked how Joe mentioned overstimulation — which in my universe can be sensory or social or both.

Mona Pereth

Joined: 11 Sep 2018
Gender: Female
Posts: 5,831
Location: New York City (Queens)

05 Oct 2022, 12:33 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
He's also working with the group, Autism Speaks.

Working with them how, I wonder?

- Autistic in NYC - Resources and new ideas for the autistic adult community in the New York City metro area.
- Autistic peer-led groups (via text-based chat, currently) led or facilitated by members of the Autistic Peer Leadership Group.
- My Twitter (new as of 2021)


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Joined: 2 May 2019
Age: 26
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Posts: 613
Location: Mid-Atlantic USA

05 Oct 2022, 10:22 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
He's also working with the group, Autism Speaks.

Working with them how, I wonder?

Yeah really. Someone needs to educate this guy before he gets too close with them.

When anti-vaxxers get in my face, I say ... Have a Nice Day!


Joined: 11 Jan 2020
Age: 23
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Location: Atenlo

07 Oct 2022, 1:12 am

1. Former professional football player comes out of the closet
2. NFL star Brendon Ayanbadejo came out today!
3. He said he was gay since he was 14 years old.
4. He said he was depressed about being gay.
5. He decided to start his own foundation called "Healing Our Community."
6. He wants to help people who have been bullied and are dealing with their homosexuality.
7. He's currently doing a tour across America to raise money and awareness for his foundation.
8. He says he's just telling people who need help.
9. His mother supports him.
10. He's always been open about being gay.
11. He's been working with the Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school for 2 years now.
12. He feels like his family is supportive of him.
13. He started playing football after graduating college.
14. He played defensive end and linebacker.