As you may know, many people with social 'disabilities' such as Autism find a home among roleplayers due to the generally accepting nature of our kind. There are a lot of interviews and videos around the internet with RPers who are on the autism spectrum who will tell you that roleplaying has helped them learn to conquer their fears and become more confident in the real world.
Jesse Walls is no exception!
I wanted to share this article so that it might encourage those of us with social anxiety. If you'd like to discuss it further, please leave a comment or join us on the forum and post in this thread!
This article was originally posted by Susannah Schrader on The Chart, Missouri State University's student-run blog.
Though many people may not know his name, Jesse Walls is easily one of the most recognizable people on campus at Missouri Southern. With his long red hair and unusual style of dress, he definitely stands out among the crowd of T-shirt wearing students. Walls is a member of Southern’s Live Action Role Play group, often just called LARP.
LARP, as Walls explained, is playing tabletop Dungeons and Dragons and “taking it a step further and adding a theatrical element; [an] improv element, so to speak.”
The members of LARP act as characters within different storylines, going on adventures and quests.
“Oh, and we get to beat each other with foam weapons,” Walls added.
Though the group used to be tied to a worldwide organization, they have broken off from that to focus more on the campus group. According to Walls, they do an abundance of different activities together. LARP, in fact, is where Walls met his wife Rachel, who is pursuing a degree in general studies.
Though LARP is a big part of Walls’ life (he and Rachel had a LARP-themed wedding last spring), his greater passion in life is journalism. The former editor-in-chief of the Neosho Sentry of Crowder College, he has a several years’ of experience in the industry.
“I became managing editor my second semester of the staff there, and third semester I was editor-in-chief,” Walls said.
Under Walls’ leadership, the newspaper became the best newspaper in the state in its division. Walls convinced his staff to work through the summer and have an issue on the stands the very first day of classes, and they achieved that goal. Walls eventually went on to correspond with President Barack Obama on an issue very near to his heart.
Walls revealed that he is on the autism spectrum, afflicted with what is known as Asperger’s Syndrome. He wrote an article for the Crowder Sentry on the topic of autism awareness in April 2013, and reached out to President Obama, who declared April 2 Autism Awareness Day, for a comment. Though the president did respond, he did so too late to be featured in the article. Always determined to meet his deadlines, Walls published the article on the right date, then updated it later to include the quote from President Obama.
Though he has found success in his journalistic pursuits, Walls admitted he still has what he calls “autistic moments,” where he can be over-stimulated or, as he said, “think that spinning around in a circle as fast I can is a good idea.”
But Walls does not see autism as a disability. In fact, he stated that he is proud to be autistic. Walls has three children from a previous marriage, all of whom are affected with autism, and it is very important to him that they see him as an example of what they can achieve.
Walls has been at Southern for a number of semesters and has cited pursuing other interests by taking classes outside his major as the reason he hasn’t graduated with his bachelor’s degree. He expects to graduate in the winter of 2017.
“From here I’m planning to get my master’s degree, because my hopes are to one day become a college instructor,” Walls explained. He continued by saying he would like to eventually return to Crowder College, possibly taking over for a favorite journalism instructor when she retires.
Walls, a lover of quotes, cited “Veni, vidi, vici”—a Latin quote believed to have been said by Julius Caesar—as one of his favorites. In English, it translates to “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Walls, who described himself as shy and scared when he started college at Crowder, works to be the embodiment of this classic quote.
Years of hard work have brought him to where he is today: a man in a loving relationship with a large family, pursuing his dreams. It turns out that LARP is just a small part of Walls’ life: His real passion is journalism, and nothing is going to stop him from continuing his work in it.