Bradley Olson--A Person with Autism

Hi, from Bradley Wayne Olson. I am autistic. People ask me what it is like to have autism.  I reply that I do not mind being autistic because it is part of who I am and I do not know any other way of life. My site will tell you about myself and you will find that I am no different from anyone else except for the diagnosis of autism.

I was born in Fridley, Minnesota on April 29, 1978. I was diagnosed with autism when I was 18 months old. There was not a program for autism in Bemidji, so I lived with a foster family in Wayzata, Minnesota. I attended a program for children with autism at Children's Health Center in Minneapolis for 2 years which is now Children's Specialty Center. After that, I went to live with a foster family in Duluth, Minnesota and attended school there for three years.  I moved back home with my mother Carol and my sister Stephanie in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1986 (home of Paul Bunyan and Babe The Blue Ox) when I was in 2nd grade and attended Lincoln Elementary School.  I attended Central Elementary for third through fifth grade and Bemidji Middle School for sixth through eighth grade.  Ninth through twelfth grade, I attended Bemidji High School and graduated in 1997. After high School graduation I attended Northwest Technical College for three years and earned a degree in Microcomputers in 1999. Upon graduation from Northwest Tech I started my employment at NLFX Professional (You can purchase all of your sound and lighting equipment online).  I use my skill for the computer and love for music and electronics at my employment. I nominated my employer for the Minnesota Governorís Council on Developmental Disabilities Award conducted by MarketResponse International. A nominations process to identify Minnesota businesses that are using innovative employment practices in hiring people with developmental disabilities and promoting an inclusive work environment. Forty-five nominations were received and 11 businesses were selected. On October 1, 2008, these employers and their employees were recognized.A copy of the article appeared in the Bemidji Pioneer on October 12, 2008 (article). In December 2010, RP Broadcasting (WBJI Real Country 98.3 FM) hired me to categorize their music library and in January 2011, I started hosting a musical Gospel hour on the station.

I like to keep busy. Some of the things I enjoy are Special Olympics Minnesota. I started Special Olympics in 1990 and have earned medals in the following sports: swimming, track and field, bowling, equestrian, volleyball, basketball, and table tennis. My favorite is roller skating but it is no longer a sport in Minnesota.  I was able to go to the International Special Olympics meet in Raleigh, NC for roller skating in 1999. At the Internationals, I won a bronze in freestyle, silver in dance and gold in figures.

In 1998 I was awarded the Inspirational Amateur Athlete Award of the year from Midwest Sports Channel (Fox Sports Channel).  Paul Molitor(Minnesota Twins baseball player) was awarded the Professional Athlete of the year.

Besides Special Olympics, I like music, especially country and 50's-70's pop and rock music. I collect CDs, LPs, and 45 records. My CD collection numbers over 1,900.  And with my interest in computers, I have done web design for a few non-profit organizations.  I have also been the editor of the newsletter for Bemidji Special Olympics which is no longer published.I have also enjoyed having articles that I have written published in the local newspaper, the Bemidji Pioneer.

Some of my other activities include going to the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine to be a participant of their Autism Research Project, An NICHD Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism.  They have invited me back for additional studies.Information on this research project can be found on their website at  Several years ago, I was a mentor for Minnesota Autism Society Camp Discovery. My most recent added activity is singing in the choir at my home church Trinity Lutheran (LCMS).

Of special interest: My sister Stephanie wrote an essay on being a sibling to an autistic brother."Growing Up With Bradley" by Stephanie Coyle, Published in "Voices From The Spectrum" Edited by Cindy N. Ariel and Robert A. Naseef

I especially enjoy spending time with my nephews: Nathaniel, 18, and Nicholas, 15.

Updated: January 13, 2014