Nick Hall has been serving on the Board of Directors of Green Mountain Adaptive Sports since March 2021. Nick resides in Lyndonville, VT, and presently works as a custodian at Hazen Union School in Hardwick, VT. Although Nick is on the autism spectrum, he leads a fully active and independent life. We asked him to share some of his thoughts and insights about some of the challenges he faces living with autism.

Q: When did you first learn that you were on the autism spectrum?
A: I was informed about it when I was in elementary school. Yet I was too young to understand what it really meant. It wasn’t until I started 6th grade that my diagnosis was for Autism, before that I was diagnosed with ADHD, OCD, and maybe Dyslexia or Tourette’s. 

Q: What was it like growing up with a different learning style from your peers? How do you visualize information – pictures, words, both? Do you have any tricks that help you?
A: It was HARD. My childhood, while it had great moments, also had a LOT of bad moments. Having to “fit in” with kids that were different wasn’t easy. Even when I tried my hardest, I couldn’t communicate with anyone, including family, peers, teachers, and other trusted adults. I felt like I was an alien, living in a foreign world where nothing made sense, and rules didn’t apply to anyone but me.

I was quick to blame and easy to manipulate.

I visualize pictures because they were either the first I saw or because they symbolize who I was and where I was from. Some pictures include Mt. Mansfield, Stowe Village, Stowe Mountain Resort, Nebraska Valley, Sterling Valley, Stowe Hollow, and many more. 

The tricks I use are what are the main draws of Stowe. Is it the mountain? Seasons? Small town? Having a sense of belonging? Or the memories of growing up? Seeing the mountain gain new lifts-buildings-new shops or stores opening in town, famous restaurants coming and go (Sunset Grille). 

Q: What were things that people did to help you succeed?
A: By taking me on trips, or showing life through a different perspective. Like being a firefighter painted Stowe in a safety view, memorizing where fire hydrants were, or which road a building is on. But mainly having people who understood who I was and who helped me grow with my strengths and not focus on my weaknesses. 

Q: What strengths does being on the spectrum bring to you? What hidden talents do you have?
A: Loyalty, determination, looking at life through more than one perspective. Hidden talent would be doing jobs that most people would never do, like firefighting, working in an Emergency Room during the worst of the Pandemic, and being able to maintain machines, from cars-trucks-buses-ski lifts-or farm machinery. Also having a “free” mind that isn’t focused on one side of anything.   

Nick Hall (second from left)

Nick Hall (second from left) volunteered for the Stowe Fire Department for 10 years.

Q: What are your favorite things to do?
A: Tinkering with machines, skiing, swimming, biking, hiking, traveling, animals, reading history books, boating, carpentry work, video games, rock climbing, and sledding. Firefighting. 

Q: What role have sports played in your life?
A: I played soccer, t-Ball, tennis, basketball, and cross-country running plus downhill skiing. Sports are not my cup of tea, but I find excitement in watching competitive sports, like the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL, or motor sports like NASCAR. 

Nick Hall was also featured in this article. To read another interesting story about living with autism, click here.