An Interview With Armani Williams, The First NASCAR Driver On The Autism Spectrum
Posted on 09/20/18 in News by Ron Sandison
"Tell me I can’t so that I can show you that I can,” Armani Williams
By Ron Sandison
- What were are greatest challenges having autism?
I feel like my greatest challenges of having autism is the communication and social interaction. All my life I have been dealing with issues growing up but I have managed to steadily improve those tactics, being a little more proactive around other people and that’s going to help me in the long run as I continue to live my life with autism.
- How old were you when you begin to speak?
Good question, I can’t remember when I did. It’s been a long time since I was very little. I would say it was when I was 2 or 3 years old. It sometimes takes time before you can say your very first words.
- Did you have any sensory issues? If so, how did you learn to overcome them?
Yes, I had some sensory issues especially when I was young. And I still do today but I have been able to reduce those issues and overcome them just by looking at my surroundings and knowing what’s going on in today’s world. When I hear or see something that I don’t quite understand, I use the internet and research things on Google to help me understand certain things I don’t know. The more I learn about different things, the easier it is for me to translate the information to my brain and the next time it comes up it’s like, “Oh, I have heard about this before”, or “Hey, I know what this is.”
- How did your parents encourage you to interact socially?
Yeah, so once it got to the point where I was more than comfortable being around other people that’s when the next step came was to learn how to talk and interact with people. My parents have been helping a lot, teaching me the basics of having a conversation with someone, how to stay connected with them, how to meet people I have not met before, and etc. My parents have been very supportive of me and without their help I don’t know how my life would have been today.
- What sparked your interests in NASCAR driving?
That’s a good question. What sparked my interest in NASCAR driving started really young for me. I loved playing with one of my action figure cars as a kid and just play all day. When I heard about NASCAR, it sparked my interest up another level. I would watch NASCAR nonstop and it amazed me how fast those cars were going, passing cars, and a winner getting a trophy at the end of the race. I found that pretty cool and awesome and one day I told my dad straight up that was something I wanted to do when I grow up was to be a professional racecar driver.
- How did you learn to drive a car?
I picked it up fairly early knowing about the gas and the brake pedals and the steering wheel. Once I learned how to use the basic parts while driving, it became very easy for me and it has help me excel through racing and getting a driver’s license.
- What advice would you give to young adults with autism who fear learning how to drive?
I would tell them to not be afraid of learning something you haven’t done before. Once you learn the basics of working the steering wheel, working the gas and brake pedal ... if you can put all that time in hard work and commitment and put it to good use, I will tell you that it will become easier and you can really be more comfortable on the road, freeways, or even on the racetrack if you want to be a racecar driver.
- What do you like best about racing?
I love the joy of being on the racetrack and going out there and competing for wins every time