Jesse A. Saperstein is a best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker. He is considered one of the most respected leaders in the Anti-Bullying movement of his generation. Jesse also has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome (AS). Individuals with Asperger’s are impaired by a profound lack of social skills, common sense, and resistance to change in routine. But they are often enhanced by empathy, intellectual gifts, and morality.
). He began hiking from Georgia to Maine on March 9, www.hikeforAIDS.orgAfter graduating from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2004 with a BA degree in English, Jesse set out to conquer the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail to benefit the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation (2005 and successfully completed the journey on October 18, 2005, raising more than $19,000 for children to attend summer camp who had contracted HIV/AIDS through prenatal transmission. Shortly after his hike ended, Jesse was exposed to some of the cruel realities of living as an adult on the autism spectrum and was treated as a social pariah by members of the community who did not understand. His decision to become a writer was an opportunity to escape these realities and advocate for his peers who are not always granted a voice.
Jesse’s story, “Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters,” was published by Penguin Group (USA) in April 2010 and immediately became a popular memoir due to its practical advice and outrageous humor. He chronicles his misadventures and extremes to improve his social skills. The book quickly rose to the top of Amazon.com and placed Jesse as a dynamic media personality, motivational speaker and most important, an advocate for people with disabilities. His most recent book is “Getting a Life with Asperger’s: Lessons Learned on the Bumpy Road to Adulthood” that functions as a guidebook to ensure a smoother transition into adulthood. Both books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and personalized copies may be obtained from Jesse himself.
After receiving a grant from the Anderson Foundation for Autism (AFA) in Staatsburg, New York, Jesse completed his first skydiving jump in front of his community in an effort to eradicate bullying. “Free Falling to End Bullying” is currently a popular video on YouTube: www.youtube.com/jessesaperstein. He has also spoken about misunderstood differences while simultaneously donating blood for the New York Blood Center (NYBC) in a public service announcement.
Jesse visits schools on a regular basis and has been successful with wiping out bullying or at least dramatically alleviating it with every presentation. He was contracted by New York University (NYU) to be a part of their “Keeping it Real Project” (www.projectkeepitreal.com) to infuse anti-bullying education in New York City public schools. He has also spoken at the Mall of America in Minneapolis and addressed global delegates at the United Nations (UN) in honor of World Autism Awareness Day.
His current goal is to help create a graduate school program that will assign students to live with families affected by the autism spectrum. This would provide them with invaluable fieldwork for a career in special education and increase the support for overwhelmed families. One of these days, Jesse would also like to attempt a hike of the 2,600 mile-plus Pacific Crest Trail to benefit autism awareness.