Community Conversations: Let’s Meet Derek Rhoades-DiLiberti!
“My name is Derek Rhoades-DiLiberti. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology degree, from Florida Atlantic University. I currently work at the animal clinic. For almost 2 years now, working at the vet’s office, I have been obtaining the experience that helps me see myself, continuing to boost my confidence in working with the animals. While I plan to continue to work there for years to come, I am also excited to be part of Andrew Blitman’s interview, and I’m happy to provide any input that Andrew needs. Thank you Andrew for this opportunity to speak with you today.”
You can find him here on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dmanoo7/?hl=en
Derek is one of my best friends, and he is currently doing a lot of interesting things. I can’t wait to introduce him to you. Without further ado, here is our interview!
Thank you for dropping by! Tell me about yourself. What are your favorite activities and hobbies?
I do have autism, but it’s high functioning. What I enjoy doing is walking around the neighborhood, writing, playing video games, anything fun but legal at the same. I recently got into painting, and I shall be painting more.
Tell me about the book you are writing. What is it about and how is the project coming along?
I finished it a while ago, but work and life kept me from writing in general. Anyway, while I’m hoping it will be successful, because not every book can be published, it’s done, but it’s being reviewed by a friend who is my former reading teacher. I have to check in with that process. As long as nobody steals my story and idea for a book I hope to publish, I’ll be happy to share a little: It’s about a mermaid befriending a kid with autism, and helping him live his life.
What do you like about the writing process? Who/what inspires you?
What I like about writing is talking about how adventurous the story goes. Temple Grandin inspires me because she has autism, and her life helps me live my life and write about anything relevant to autism.
You have met many famous people. Who are they and what are they like? Who is/are your favorite celebrities?
While I admire Temple Grandin, I also love Jane Goodall. Jane Goodall studied the animals’ social interaction, and the planet we live in. She inspired me to continue to keep the world as clean as possible, and of course, to care for the animals as much as possible. Jane Goodall is the main reason why I work at the vet’s office today. When I met Henry Winkler from “Happy Days”, he respected and liked me for who I turned out to be. He gave me advice on being social, which was to introduce myself and be open about it, and that some people will understand while some people won’t understand.
Who do you look up to? Who do you admire/draw inspiration from?
Pierce Brosnan, the former James Bond actor. He encourages me to care for the world and for the animals, he’s as caring as Jane Goodall. While I do hope to meet him, I’m just thankful to have met Jane Goodall.
Where are you working these days? What do you do?
I work at the vet’s office. Walking the dogs, cleaning the kennel room for the dogs, and the cages for the cats, I make sure the cats and dogs have food and water. I clean the floors and exam rooms, and surgery room as well. I help the vets calm the cats and dogs, if they have to do anything medical (Giving shots for example)
What was your childhood like?
I was sometimes bullied in camps (Stopped going to camps at age 15 of course) and schools, until I was in my senior year of high school. Otherwise, I had friends and family who had my back and still do today.
What are your core values? What matters most to you and what have your experiences taught you about life? Any advice for the rest of us?
Respect – Because I want to be respected since I was bullied especially, I learn that respecting others will help me with what I need. Advice is respecting others helps you and others live peacefully
Loyalty – Because I want to respect anyone who has always been on my side. Loyalty is fully supporting anyone you trust. Advice would be to be on your loved ones’ side if they have been true to you.
Who/what are your favorite artists/musicians/authors/movies/tv shows/video games/etc.?
I enjoy Enya as a musician, because her music is soothing, and her music is therapeutic. My favorite author is John Green, since he wrote inspiring books like “The Fault in Our Stars”, which inspired me to care for my friends and family if they go through anything tough.
About you living with a high functioning form of autism, you are so diverse and good at socializing with other people. How were you able to adapt to the life you are living now?
I had to grow up with tough love at certain times, so I can learn what is right or wrong. I had to learn what to say or not to say, I had to learn when it’s okay to hug people for example, and I had to learn when to back off when people need their space. Whatever I made a mistake with communication skills, I figured out what to do to avoid making the same mistake again. I just studied what to do to be social, and I would practice my social skills and practice my speech skills whenever necessary.
Do you have any advice on having friends and relationships?
Be true to yourself and have the same interests. Being true to yourself is what’s beautiful about you, and that’ll help you make friends and develop romantic relationships. Having the same interests will make chances better in making friendships and relationships. Also, it’s strongly recommended to give space, because being too social and overstaying anyone’s welcome can pressure anyone into ending friendships and relationships
Who would you like to acknowledge/shoutout/promote/thank for their involvement in your life and how they helped you get to where you are today?
My mother Kim Rhoades, who I loved deeply. She’s obviously a rock star when it comes to autism parenting life, and she’s been extra caring since my father passed away back in January of 2022. My sister Lauren, who rocks the house, and her husband Scott. I want to thank my uncles and aunts, and cousins for helping me get through a challenging journey. My teachers from schools, especially Ms. Barbara. My mentors from FAU CARD, especially Jacquie Wood. My best friend Kenny, since 1997. Thank you everyone for your love and support, and I will be looking forward to continuing my relationships with all my loved ones.
INTERVIEWER’S CLOSING NOTES FOR THE READERS
Thank you for your time and readership. I hope you enjoyed this interview. There will be more interviews with more people to come in the near future. Have a great day!