Tania: Hello Sybelle, Thank-you for agreeing to an interview and for joining alongside other cool Asperchics in the AspienWoman Mentor Project. It is fantastic having you here, not only because you are such a role model, but because you are the first MarsOne applicant I have interviewed. Thank-you for joining other cool Asperchics in the AspienWoman Mentor Project, a project designed to gather an inspirational group of females on the Spectrum who are successful role models and mentors. Where about in the world do you live?
Sybelle: I live in New York City, United States of America.
Tania: You have so many talents. Please tell us about them.
Sybelle: Oh, lol, where do I start. I work primarily in entertainment, if its art, I’ve probably done it at some point, lol. My main career path is as an actress, singer, model, and dancer right now. I’m a vocalist for the rock band Kings Valentine. I also fix PCs.
Tania: So, you really are a triple or quadruple threat?!
Sybelle: I suppose a “multi threat” is an appropriate term, haha. I have a background in martial arts, gymnastics, and various styles of dance. I also can do portrait sketches, self taught, have no idea how, I can just see all the details on a person’s face, all the shadows, the lines in the skin, right down to pores, it creeps people out, lol. I can take a photograph, no matter how small, of a person, and duplicate it with all detail on a much larger piece of paper. I can draw portraits in person, but people don’t usually stay still enough for me to do it. My PC tech skills are for the most part self taught also. I swore after the first time being on the phone with tech support and not understanding those crazy thick accents, that I would never call tech support again, lol. This was my first impression of outsourcing, and I am absolutely opposed to the practice if it prohibits the smooth flow of information between people, lol.
Tania: How did you find out you were on the Spectrum?
Sybelle: Oh wow, that is a story. I was logging in to check my email and some email providers have articles that scroll across the screen when you first go to their sites. One such article was titled “Whole Family Diagnosed with a Disorder”, and I was thinking, hmm, sounds interesting, so I click it, and the whole thing was practically my own biography! I was instantly obsessed with the topic of Asperger Syndrome! I googled everything I could that instant, I called in family members to look, it was all quite dramatic, I felt almost like I had died! Whole portions of memories of my life flashed before me as if I was having a near death experience, and those portions began to make sense in a matter of seconds!!! Then I was absolutely compelled to know from a professional if this was me, or if I was just jumping to conclusions….members of my family agreed it certainly sounded accurate. More googling, only to be disappointed with what services were available for adults…it was as if the entire community on autism had this strange idea that autism just disappeared upon becoming age 18….very strange. Heard all kinds of things from places I called. “Women don’t have that”, “You’re too high functioning”, “We only see children”, and a whole host of other stuff from the very obviously and numerously misinformed population working in the field…then I managed to find Dr. Lynda Geller. I’d say she’s the top expert in the field in NYC. I wish she could be cloned and placed in every facility that treats people with autism. Our world would change so efficiently it would practically be instantaneous. Glad that people like her, and you, are working to change the misinformation out there. So Dr. Geller evaluated me, and it turned out I was 100% correct about myself. This prompted me to observe similarities I had seen between myself and my daughter, and I then had her evaluated also, and she too was diagnosed. Not with Asperger’s, but somewhere around HFA and PDD NOS. Finding out all this was one of the best things to ever happen for us. It opened up a whole new world I wished I could have been exposed to waaaaaaaay earlier.
Tania: Well, that’s quite a story and great to hear of Dr. Geller’s work and expertise, for anyone in New York. I will also add her to my list of professionals around the world. You also mentioned your daughter. What talents does she have?
Sybelle: She’s very creative. She likes to take pictures, draw, paint, dance and sing. What she’s really good at though, is physical fitness. She’s very strong. She’s fast. She has no fear. I would get criticized by parents in the neighborhood for allowing her to climb to the tops of trees, playground fixtures, stone walls, etc. I would allow it, because I have full confidence in her abilities. I recognized these skills early on. At 4 months, she would stand while I held her hands, knees locked in place. Around 2 months later, she was able to “koala” me, hanging onto me with her own hands and feet entirely unsupported by me. Once she was able to walk on her own, a little before 1 year, she would climb anything and everything she could, and has never once fallen! Sure, she’s fallen running after or away from someone, or tripping over an object during running, but she’s never fallen from climbing…she recently told me she’d like to rock climb a full wall. I must test this interest next time I am at the Intrepid with her, at the rock climbing wall, lol. i believe she can get to the top with no problems at all. People’s reactions will be interesting. I too, am athletic, have reached the top of the same wall, and simply because I am female, had people gasping. Imagine my almost 10 year old daughter, lol
Tania: I was already impressed by your accomplishments but then I heard that you had applied for the “Mars One” Mission and I was like “wow”! For those that do not know, Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars in 2023. So, once you go, there’s no turning back?
Sybelle: I applied for this mission, yes, however, at the time of this writing, none of the applicants know if they have been accepted into the program or not. There are 4 selection rounds. Applying is only round 1. We will know if we have passed onto round 2 by the beginning of 2014 most likely. One of my special interests is astronomy, has been since birth. I knew things about astronomy as a toddler most kids didn’t learn till they were at least school age.
Tania: Will your daughter go with you?
Sybelle: She cannot go on the same exact mission I would be on if I am accepted for the 2023 launch. If selected, I will be required to train for 8 years. All accepted applicants must do this. All applicants must also be 18 years of age. She will be 18 by the time of launch. After she has turned 18, she can apply for the next selection process. There is not yet an option for people to apply as families. All must apply individually.
Tania: What it is about this Mission that inspires you to apply?
Sybelle: I have always loved space. Been fascinated by it. I want to know it, experience it, live it, be one with it. During the first half of my life, this desire became coupled with the fact that I felt completely unappreciated by people on this planet. This fueled the interest even more. I never thought in my lifetime there would be such an opportunity as to live on another planet, experience its different gravitational pull, terraform it, utilize its natural resources, live with solar power as a main source of power, create an entirely new society…I have wanted this since birth, I was engineered for this purpose. And now I am being given an opportunity to try again…I wrote NASA in 5th grade. They sent me gorgeous images of astrophotography and several astronauts of the time period who were on missions. It excited me like nothing else could. I attended US Space Camp during high school. THAT was an experience. The training, I loved it, I actually wish it had been more intense, more rigorous. Mars One will do that…it will be the most rigorous training anyone has ever endured in the field of space travel and exploration. And Space X, Elon Musk’s company, is also in communication with Mars One about transportation. I am so phenomenally impressed by Mr. Musk’s work, and would be completely star struck should I ever get to meet him. I don’t get star struck very easily, but that would be very overwhelming, lol.
Tania: It really is like a movie. For those interested, how does one apply to be a part of the Mars One settlement? I have a feeling you may not be the only Aspie that’s applying to move to Mars.
Sybelle: Aaah, yes, I imagine so. Yes, a movie. As an actress, I’ve worked on many genres, but still have yet to work on a sci fi project. I would absolutely love to be a part of a sci fi project. Especially if it puts me in space, lol. It is my favorite genre, and yet, there seems to be a severe lack of sci fi productions in NYC, lol. So yes, Mars One is the real deal, this is science fiction becoming reality, and if anyone else wants to walk through that door, they will need to apply. Unfortunately, this year’s astronaut selection process is already closed. I believe the next will be in another 2 years or so. The project will send 4 astronauts to Mars every 2 years starting in 2023, so based off that time frame, would be applicants should start looking for information on the Mars One website 2 years from now. I do not know if the application criteria will be the same. This year, it was necessary to fill out a resume form, write a motivational letter, answer a very personal questionnaire, create a video of yourself answering 3 questions about yourself and your interest in Mars One, and also pay an application fee equivalent to what it would cost to apply to a college.
Tania: How do you think Aspergers has helped you in your career/life?
Sybelle: Aspergers is the reason I was able to learn and acquire information at the rate I have. The reason I was able to successfully teach myself skills outside of an educational environment. The reason I can solve technical problems quickly, have an effective sense of logic. Having a brain that functions similar to Spock or Data is most definitely advantageous, I just wish more people understood these advantages and that they have benefited from these advantages with each advancement in technology and various other fields. In terms of career, on the film production side of things, I was able to put together all the systems we would need. I have 4 computer systems, and have maintained all the computers here on my own for over a decade. As an actress, echolalia is a good thing, for acting is the skill of imitation. Learning to mimic the way others interact is paramount. I have also done all my own marketing. I built my own website, at least at the time of this writing. I have been effectively using social media, which to me feels more natural than all the schmoozing that usually goes on, lol. It was actually surprising to me when I saw that there were classes that taught people how to effectively market themselves through social media. To me it was obvious.
Tania: Where can people follow you or find out more information about you and/or your work?
I am also on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Model Mayhem, and IMDB. Here are the links, respectively:
Tania: Where can people view your somewhat humorous yet serious MarsOne application?
Sybelle: On YouTube at http://applicants.mars-one.com/profile/8d485a78-46c4-4152-93cc-3a015d4df694
Tania: What kind of advocacy are you involved in?
Sybelle: I have become very interested in giving exposure to autism awareness and acceptance. I’ve recently had an article published by AHA’s newsletter On The Spectrum about where Aspies can go to meet compatible people. The same organization has asked me to participate on a panel of adults who have had interesting career evolution’s. This will be for the 2014 Autism conference at Adelphi University in April. I have also participated on a panel for GRASP about Spectrumites in their communities of faith. I am also working on assisting GRASP with starting a support group in the boro of NYC that I live in.
Tania: Sybelle, I want to thank you for your time and for being a mentor Asperchic role model and part of the AspienWoman Mentor Project. You are inspirational and I wish you all the best with your application to take up residence on the Planet Mars. Very exciting! Please keep us up-to-date on your achievements.
Sybelle: Thanks for selecting me as a person of interest 🙂 I hope that through those such as yourself, we are appreciated for the things we contribute to society, instead of being looked upon as being a mistake that must be corrected.
Tania Marshall. 2013. All rights reserved. Duplication in whole or part is explicitly forbidden. Thank you.