Peter Eichler Spreads Info About Asperger's Syndrome via Comedy Debut
Peter Eichler has lived with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism, for years - even before he had a name for his condition. His experiences and subsequent triumphs led him to found Adam 2 Adam, a non-profit organization intended to promote awareness of autism spectrum disorders and provide mentoring to young adults with Asperger's and other autism-related conditions.
The 43-year-old non-profit founder recently faced a new challenge - developing a stand-up comedy routine. Eichler has been given the opportunity to perform at New York City's Gotham Comedy Club. While people with Asperger's Syndrome are often very serious, Adam 2 Adam encourages creativity, relaxation, and humor as a form of therapy - so Eichler felt that his stand-up debut would be leading by example.
"My goal is to inspire others with Asperger's to break through their isolation and find ways to connect with people. I'm also hoping to give a public face to the condition, since many people seem to know little about it," he explained. "If you had told me a few years ago that I would be performing comedy in public, I would have found it implausible. But as long as I'm attempting the impossible, I'm aiming for another unlikely feat - a stand-up act with no cursing, sex, or put-downs; a routine that can make inebriated adults and sober 6-year-olds laugh out loud."
Eichler was adopted as an infant, and his adoptive mother describes him as a fussy child who was not easily comforted and did not socialize well with other children. He did not talk until he was 4 years old, and was later diagnosed with dyslexia and learning disabilities. However, it was not until many years later that he had a name for the symptoms he had struggled with his whole life: Asperger's Syndrome.
"My birth father was posthumously diagnosed with Asperger's in 2008. I was 40 when I learned of my diagnosis, and my son James was found to have Asperger's at age 5. All at once, I was thrust into the stark reality of this previously unfamiliar condition. There were three generations pointing the proverbial finger of Asperger's right in my face," asserted Eichler. He describes the revelation as "both liberating and nauseating at the same time."
At the time he learned of his diagnosis, Eichler was living in Louisiana with his wife and five children. He lost his electronics contracting business in Hurricane Katrina, and was ready to channel his passion and energy in a new direction. At that point, he dedicated himself to understanding the psychology of Asperger's Syndrome, and exploring therapies and possibilities for a better quality of life.
Through Adam 2 Adam, Eichler hopes to communicate with others who share his condition and demonstrate that with proper support and therapy, they can lead a full life that includes creativity, laughter, and strong social bonds. He offers his own experiences as living proof that people with Asperger's can not only survive, but thrive.
Eichler will perform his debut comedy act at the Gotham Comedy Club (208 W. 3rd St., New York, NY) on October 16, 2011, at 6 p.m. For information and reservations, call 212-367-9000. "I'm scared to death, but I'm also really psyched to show the world that people with Asperger's can have many hidden talents, including humor," he said. "I think I'm going to shock a lot of people - especially my kids."
While the website for Adam 2 Adam is currently in progress, Eichler invites readers to connect and learn more about his non-profit business at http://www.facebook.com/adam2adam .
About Peter Eichler and Adam 2 Adam
Peter Eichler is the founder of Adam 2 Adam, a South Orange, N.J.-based non-profit organization that provides mentoring and support to teens and young adults with Asperger's Syndrome. Eichler was diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder at age 40; his late father and one of his sons were also found to have the condition. It was this male-lineage genetic link and mentorship focus that gave Adam 2 Adam its name. The organization's mission is to generate awareness of Asperger's Syndrome, and to promote creativity, relaxation, music, and humor as therapy for the mildly autistic - ultimately empowering individuals with Asperger's Syndrome to forge strong social bonds. Eichler leads outreach and mentoring programs in partnership with JESPY House. He is also available for public speaking engagements at schools and community organizations. To learn more, visit http://www.facebook.com/adam2adam .