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Growing up in the 1990’s in Wales, United Kingdom, Daniel Jones displayed behavioural patterns that were an enigma to his parents. Despite seeking help from multiple doctors and therapists, they were unable to determine the cause. This lack of clarity led to years of challenges, which continued until he was 26 when an incident at work triggered a severe meltdown, resulting in his dismissal and recommendation to seek therapy. During this critical period, professionals suggested evaluating David for autism. Subsequently, he received diagnoses of Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, OCD, and dyslexia presenting him with a unique combination of conditions to manage.
Knowing little about Asperger’s syndrome, he sought out YouTube videos. However, he found a lack of informative content, prompting him to create his own videos to educate and entertain viewers with stories of his own experiences. His first video, although filmed on an iPad in a poorly lit room, received unexpectedly positive feedback, leading to a growing audience that eagerly requested more content. In 2017, he won the YouTube Next Up award designed for channels with subscriber counts ranging from 10,000 to 100,000. This victory took him to YouTube’s London headquarters, where he received valuable guidance and some funding to purchase better equipment. Encouraged by the opportunity this presented, in 2018, he took a leap of faith and transitioned to full-time advocacy via @TheAspieWorld.
Daniel’s engaging voice, unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in a relatable, lighthearted manner endeared him to his audience. His commitment to honesty and transparency was also a huge factor, explaining that he was unafraid to openly express himself, even if it meant admitting to having a bad day. Moreover, remembering his childhood, Daniel saw value in sharing his personal experiences to offer support to parents encountering similar difficulties with their children.
Today, Daniel is a successful entrepreneur who boldly acknowledges the important role technology plays in his life. From his discovery of YouTube as a lucrative avenue through which he can reach millions with his invaluable message, to embracing the exceptional functionalities of digital devices as an aid to his daily life, his admits to having found a way to live comfortably with his unique combination of conditions.
As a person with Asperger’s syndrome, travel is one aspect of his life that benefits significantly from technology. He revealed that the Tesla car has revolutionized local travel for him. As a father of two, Daniel said, “Tesla has set me up for being able to take my family on vacation with a lot my ease.” He continued, “Before, I was so anxious about driving and navigating, but the car is so smart that it takes a lot of pressure off me which significantly reduces my travel anxiety and allows for more enjoyable family vacations.” Previously, a family member would accompany them with the sole task of being the driver. Now Daniel is in the driver’s seat. He also shares that going to the gas station was a source of anxiety—because he preferred not to interact with anyone, but his Tesla does not require those trips which is a huge relief! Daniel recognizes Elon Musk’s shared neurodivergent perspective in the creation of Tesla and admits that the smart car has positively impacted his life.
Apple devices on the other hand, are his lifeline and are exceptionally helpful in international travel. “My life would be in chaos without my iPad and iPhone to keep things organized,” he disclosed. His phone contains everything he needs for travel, from flight tickets to wallets and even passport backups. Booking cabs like Uber and checking in at the airport are seamlessly done through his phone. He believes in optimizing technology to its fullest potential and appreciates the way his iPhone caters to his specific needs. He emphasizes the importance of him having to manage transitional stages during travel and shares his strategies for making unfamiliar spaces comfortable which is absolutely necessary to avoid chaos. To reduce anxiety, he needs to “own” the space he’s in, whether it’s on an airplane or in a hotel room. In order to travel comfortably and confidently, he explained that a few things needed to be done.
First, his international travel preparations are meticulous, from planning meals to having a backup plan for various scenarios. His travel assistant, Alex, plays a crucial role in handling logistics during these trips, ensuring everything runs smoothly. “In the past, during airplane travel, I’d be tense because I’ll be so anxious about everything,” he shared, “not that I fear the airplane will fall apart but because I may have to talk to someone; take cab rides, the smells!” Will he have the right food—he’s vegan, and a myriad of other thoughts will run chaotically through his mind. But with Alex taking care of logistics, he can focus on other things.
Daniel explained, “when I’m travelling, I’m in a transitional stage but I need to own it. I may leave home and head to the airport wearing a pair of jeans, but I don’t wear jeans at home so when I get to the airport, I change into my pajamas. I get on the plane, take my shoes off and I make that space my own.” He continues, “I’m going to sit and watch movies, listen to my audio book and chill out, because I am going to enjoy this time as I would if I was sitting at home in my pajamas.”
He explained that he wears noise cancelling headphones which is crucial as he wants as little interaction with people as possible until he gets to his destination. And when he arrives, the iPhone comes out and because Alex took care of logistics, they now have a list of vegan-friendly places to eat, emergency services number, contact details of the hotel, cabs and everything else. Using Uber is the most convenient travel option, “I pay for it on my phone, sit in the back of the car, put on my headphones and because there is no exchange of money, interaction with the driver is avoided.”
He continues, “When I get to the hotel, I go to my suitcase which has everything in there that is like home to me, take them all out, clothes go into the drawers, alarm clock comes out—I’m British and we can’t live without tea, so I’ve got my T-bags. Then I have my books. I make the hotel room my own. If I don’t own that space, I won’t become familiar with it. Owning the space builds confidence.” Chaos is averted. Daniel can now sleep comfortably, wake up and as he declared, “attack the day, because everything is taken care of. Failure to plan is planning for failure.”
Although air travel requires such detailed preparation, Daniel admits that for him, it is unavoidable, especially now that his work takes him overseas. One of his best travel experiences was his visit to San Franscisco. “When I travel, even in airports, people recognize me and I get asked for selfies, they want to talk to me and stuff because they see my videos. In San Franscisco, everyone’s so busy going about doing their own thing that no one bothers you.” He loves the Bay Area and Chrissy Field Beach and recommends San Franscisco as a great place for neurodivergent people to visit safely.
Autism for Adults
This is the name of Daniel’s book, which he wrote and edited in two weeks! Autism for Adults: An Autistic Adult’s Guide to Work, Play, and Everything in Between can be found on Amazon. Published just recently, the book focuses on ways adults can live excellently on the autism spectrum. He explained that it provides actionable tips and advice, aiming to serve as a practical guide for readers. He chose a conversational writing style to make the content relatable to autistic individuals, considering their unique perspectives and needs.
Daniel’s busy mind is always seeking knowledge which drives him to tackle various interests, from completing a chemistry degree during a spell in his life when he was “bored”, to business and marketing. He is highly intelligent, values learning, relishes intellectual, meaningful conversations and finds solace during his downtime in activities like running and listening to educational books.
Overall, Daniel emphasizes the importance of planning and preparation and technology to manage his autism and ensure smooth travel and life experiences. He acknowledges the numerous challenges autism presents but also appreciates the opportunities to learn, grow and share his knowledge for the benefit of all.