PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Having a disability can be debilitating for some. However, there’s a way for adults diagnosed with autism to overcome that feeling and make a difference at the same time.
It’s made possible through a magazine called The Pittverse that comes out every quarter and a group of people on the autism spectrum meet every two weeks for editorial meetings.
“We went from a first issue where we had about eight writers and it has ballooned now and I think we’re close to 24 or 25,” said Director for Youth Advocate Programs Brian Kluchurosky. “Eighty percent of adults on the autism spectrum are unemployed, not working. I thought my God. Skills, talents just sitting on the shelf and these could be adults that could be very productive.”
Kluchurosky and his team came up with a way for adults with autism ages 18 and older to utilize those skills and build confidence and self-esteem so they can go out into the working world and make a difference.
The Pittverse is in its third year.
Delaine Swearman writes for the magazine.
“I’m a paid writer. And so just being able to say that, it gives me a sense of identity, a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose,” said Swearman.
Swearman found out she had autism when she was 30. She’s 37 now.
“Intellectually I’m very high-functioning. However, it just depends on the day or the environment that a person is in as to how they function,” Swearman said.
In fact, everyone who contributes to the magazine makes some cash.
Richard Cambpell, 64, is also a writer.
“Pittverse is helping me be a better person. It’s making me a better man. It’s making be a family man,” said Campbell.
Campbell said it hasn’t been an easy road.
“I’ve been mistreated, misused, abused and so on and so forth, but I’ve overcome those. Believe me I have,” Campbell said.
Campbell and his team use the magazine to express themselves and write about whatever strikes their fancy. Entertainment, sports and food are a few topics they cover.
“Everybody calls it a disability. I call it a God given ability,” said writer Robert Hester.
Hester is the newest member of The Pittverse team, utilizing both his photography and writing skills. He was diagnosed with autism at age 2.
“It gives me one thing and that’s hope,” Hester said.
When each issue is finished, a reveal party is held and that gives these writers an opportunity to talk about their articles, or even express their talents in front of a crowd.
Swearman couldn’t wait for this day.
“It’s always exciting to see the final product because we put a lot of hard work into it and we don’t get to see what it looks like until the release party,” Swearman said.
“This time, I wrote an article about the Burger King Bacon King Burger and what I thought about it and I ordered one at the Brentwood Burger King on Brownsville Road,” Campbell said.
It’s that sense of accomplishment that matters most.
“It’s not one of the greatest blessings I’ve had. It’s one of the most unbelievable, ginormous, unexpected blessings put upon me,” Hester said.
The Pittverse is funded through the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust.
If you’re interested in writing for the magazine, you can call the Youth Advocate Programs office at (412)-381-5563. If you would like a copy of an issue you can also call the office at that number.
If you would like to read the magazine online you can find it on Pittverse.Wordpress.com.