By Noel Schmitt, Assistant Director, People Inc.
Robert Kneitinger, an author-illustrator in Cheektowaga, New York, is an author of children’s books. His first series is about his cat named Bixie. His passion for writing children’s books has opened up opportunities to advocate for people with disabilities, he is learning a lot. Robert was diagnosed with autism at the age 40 and he uses his books to inspire others and educate them about disabilities. He receives support from People, Inc., a non-profit human services agency operating in Western New York and the Greater Rochester region.
Robert said he enjoyed the Personal Outcome Measures® interview he participated in with Bill Bergmann, Personal Outcome Measures® Interviewer for People, Inc. One thing that was discovered during the interview was that Robert wants to purchase his own condominium in the Western New York area. He explained that writing his children’s books will help him save money for his goal to own a home. When we discussed this, he said it is important to him to show others that they can be independent, live on their own, and pay their bills.
Regarding Robert’s search for a condo, he says “I have been talking about this for years now, and glad I am making headway finally. Hiring a realtor first is key, once I start looking around to areas I like, then he’ll let me know where there’s openings. We’ll have him take me to see options.”
Robert says becoming an author has helped him learn more about marketing, technology, and creativity. He has always loved art and was inspired when visiting the Burchfield Penny Art Center in Buffalo with his People Inc. life coach Don Jackson. Don is a professional artist and art teacher. The exhibit they saw was all artists from Western New York in the past century. Robert says, “The museum preserved Charles Burchfield’s home studio. It really inspired me to see a famous local artist. Burchfield’s semi-abstract landscapes are filled with color and motion. I’ve done a lot of paintings with bright colors, abstraction and motion so his work really appealed to me”
Supporting Robert Along The Way
“When I decided I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books, I hired people who could help,” says Robert. “My boss from the Cantalician Center helped get me into a local high school to present my books and my mission. It turns out the father of one of my staff is a publisher, he is now working to get my books formatted and on Amazon. Don helps me write, illustrate, and format my content for the publisher as well as social media marketing. He got me into my first art show at Starlight Gallery where I made my first painting sale. I just want to thank everyone in my family and my team for supporting me.”
He is grateful for his staff member Don Jackson, whom he calls his mentor. Robert said that Don helps him, inspires him, and has given him the confidence to be an author-illustrator. Don’s background in comic book writing/illustration and teaching art matches Robert’s mission perfectly.
To prepare for his presentation at West Seneca High school, he wrote out everything he wanted to say. This was only the second time he had done any public speaking. He presented his books for an hour and a half. The students were a little shy but they liked his presentation. He is looking forward to school starting in September so he can coordinate more outreach advocating for people with disabilities.
Working Towards His Goal
“I’m going to look for a condo. I’ve had several meetings with my staff about this.” Robert has wanted to be a homeowner for many years. He says, “I’m tired of paying rent and having nothing to show for it.” Robert has been looking in Kenmore, West Seneca and the Amherst area of New York. I have to keep it within my budget, I am not rushing this.” Robert is looking for a condo with two bedrooms, a big kitchen and basement for storage.
“Writing the books has helped me give back to those with disabilities, which is my mission in life,” adds Robert. “I want to let people know for any dreams they have in life ‘Go for it.’”
Personal Outcome Measures® Manual for Adults
Inside the Personal Outcome Measures® manual:
- View descriptions about the POM factors and indicators
- Receive guidance about the entire process
- Learn how to gather information and make decisions
- Discover techniques for interviewing and measurement