Tommy is an autistic world class runner, Disney enthusiast and YouTube personality.
Tommy’s autism has been very challenging. Assisted by PECS, computer, Disney movies, and much therapy, Tommy read and typed words before speaking single words at about age 7. Helped by reading subtitles of Disney movies, Tommy gradually became verbal over many years. Social media, Facebook, and iphones have helped Tommy, as conversing in written words is his strength. Speech and auditory processing remain a struggle, and yet Tommy has become a motivational speaker engaging large groups with his story. His YouTube channel, “lookyus”, has over 23 million views and 28,000 subscribers! Tommy gives hope to others with ASD and their families, showing the success those with ASD can experience when their strengths are encouraged and celebrated!
Tommy has always struggled with OCD, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Due to his urge to run, personal safety has been a huge concern. Since age 7, he’s had a service dog to help keep him safe. His current Autism Assistance Dog Guide, Adel, trained by the Lions Foundation, is always by his side.
At age 14, Tommy began jogging daily with his Dad, and his mantra quickly became: I’m going to be the First Fastest Runner in the World! Now a successful T20 Para Athlete and Paralympic Tokyo 2020 hopeful, he competed at the World Para Athletic Championships 2017. He trains with the Ottawa Lions, and with Athletics Canada in the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence in Victoria, Chula Vista’s Olympic training center, and Altitude training in Flagstaff. He’s won Road Racer of the Year for the past 4 years at the Ottawa Sports Awards. Tommy has been featured in Runner’s World magazine, and many other mainstream news stories.
Tommy also enjoys wilderness hiking trips with his big brother Paul and his sister-in-law Laura, visiting the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg where they work, and playing guitar and drawing with his worker Phil. He’s been a competitive Nordic skier, a national champion in kayak, a talented rock climber, and a tandem biker, sailor, canoeist and horserider!
Tommy’s journey has been joyful, surrounded by many wonderful and kind people who support him and cheer him on each step of the way- friends, professionals, immediate family, extended family, fellow runners, coaches, YouTube fans and online followers, and fellow Disney enthusiasts! Tommy makes new friends daily, and invites others to join him in his “Whee!”- an expression of excitement he uses each time he embarks on a new adventure!
Learn more at Tommy’s website www.autismmeansfriendship.com