About Jonathan Chase
I began working in the autism field in 2008, when I joined the Autism Society of Oregon's board of directors, a position which I still hold today. Since then, my work as expanded into speaking, advocacy, and mentoring young adults on the spectrum, as well as partnerships with many families, professionals and organizations.
Before my diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 14, I was called a "quirky" kid. I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I was very handy with computers at a young age. I was very sensitive to sounds, especially loud noises, and I hated getting haircuts and wearing socks. I didn't fit in at school and suffered at the hands of bullies for many years. My escape from cruel kids at school and indifferent teachers came when I found my passion for music, and left high school to pursue a career in the music industry. I played the bass guitar full-time for over ten years before making the transition into the autism field.
While I don't play music full-time anymore I still approach things as a musician first. I believe that talent is never a replacement for hard work, and with enough practice anyone can learn any skill, from soloing over jazz chords to looking people in the eye when they say "hello." My goal is to raise expectations for others and to help them achieve their maximum level of independence. The journey isn't always easy and many of us need extra time and support to find our place in the world. When I was diagnosed with autism I was told all of the things I would never do, including driving a car and living independently. I reached both of those goals in my late 20's, not because I am talented, but because I am a careful planner, and quite stubborn when I set my mind to do something.
I currently live in southeast Portland with my companion, Sunny the Cat, and you can find me at local autism events, organizing workshops for the Autism Society of Oregon, sitting in with bands at local clubs, and performing as a street magician in the warmer months.