SEAN DOUGLAS LEAL
I am a lifelong martial artist. I started boxing at the age of eighteen and from there I studied all around the world in a number of martial arts but mainly focused on boxing, Ch’uan fa and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in which I hold a brown belt under Professor Marco Costa. I fought almost exclusively in a survival capacity for most of my life. I had an active career in security and was diagnosed with complex, complicated P.T.S.D. at the age of 32 when my life of violence hit home. If not for my wife and Child I would have nothing.
In learning about my P.T.S.D. and how to recover I was diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder at 34 at which time it became apparent to me in hindsight that much of the violence done to me over the course of my life, the very violence that had led to my study of martial arts for defending myself, was the result of my having not been diagnosed as Autistic prior to adulthood. My entire family has since been diagnosed A.S.D. and it became clear to me that even the horrendous child abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother and peers was largely the result of ignorance toward Autism and not having been diagnosed.
So now I am on a mission. I wish to spread Autistic awareness as a cautionary tale. The absence of Autistic programs and funding created by the recent government cuts in Ontario leaves children exposed to tremendous potential of physical and emotional harm. Furthermore the absence of health care made available to anyone suffering from mental health challenges is, in my view, criminally absent. I wish to spread awareness and provide insight, based on my own experiences, to improve these challenging areas within our community and the world.
Martial arts gave me many tools that I used in my eventual recovery of P.T.S.D. and now I wish to give back to those struggling with their own mental health issues as well as campaign for Autism awareness. I want to leave this world better off than how I found it as a young, abused, neglected child and damaged man. I don’t think others should be forced to fight, as I fought, to gain access to something as simple, yet critically important, as knowing they may have challenges like persons living with A.S.D.
Together we rise or fall.