Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023

21-year-old author Josh Stehle published a book with a yellow cover that had a character in which resembles Superman, but instead of the popular “S” logo, a puzzle piece is being showcased. “I am a Superhero Expert: Growing up with my Autistic Brother,” was on the top 0.1% of all books on Amazon and his 23-year-old brother, Zach Stehle, was his inspiration in writing the story as he is on the spectrum.  

“The idea for ‘I am a Superhero Expert’ began as a Common App essay,” stated Josh. “I wrote about my relationship with Zach, his incredible comic book expertise and how he tackles each day with kindness and compassion. Over my first two years in college, the project continued to grow into what it is today.”

Josh said that his brother always sees the good in everyone. “He’s like a superhero, always looking to make the world a better place,” added Josh.

Josh had said that he does indeed call himself a “superhero expert,” but in reality, he lacks knowledge on the topic compared to one that he says is an “actual expert.” In this case, he refers to Zach as the “true comic book expert.” According to him, his brother knows everything that involves Marvel, DC and all the heroes and villains, plots and storylines that are related to the topic.

Zach is autistic and faces many obstacles in life. A lot of these challenges are skills that most people would take advantage of. Josh added that Zach will not let these barriers determine who he really is. Josh said he was “inspired by them. He embraces them, and doesn’t let them stop him from being the very best person he can be.”

Josh claimed that Zach has a “superpower.” “My brother is the kindest person on Earth. Every single day, he’s always looking to help people and make their days better. And it isn’t just his friends or family. It is often complete strangers at work or on the street, people who he will most likely never see again, people who may have already made judgements about Zach purely because he’s autistic. It doesn’t matter to Zach. He lives to help people. That’s why Zach is a superhero,” commented Josh.

This is why Josh calls himself a superhero expert.

“Living with somebody who has a disability is, simply, living with somebody,” remarked Josh.

Zach also talked about how his brother has a near photographic memory, meaning he can describe something perfectly, but sometimes has difficulty with eye contact in a conversation. Josh added with a bit of satire, “I’m personally much better at face-to-face conversation but have the memory equivalent to a goldfish.” 

“Zach’s strengths and challenges may imply or confirm that he’s autistic. My strengths and challenges may not. Regardless, at the end of the day, we both have strengths and challenges,” explained Josh.

Josh also claimed that Zach’s journey is “undoubtedly different from every other autistic person in the world,” and this is because he is unique from everyone.

“That’s why the autism spectrum is called a ‘spectrum,’ after all. Everybody is different and unique. Although common and documented patterns do exist throughout the spectrum as a whole, everybody’s strengths and challenges are unique,” pointed out Josh.

“Just like every other person in the world, whether they’re neurotypical or neurodiverse, extroverted or introverted, tall or short, young or old, (etc.) everybody has strengths, everybody faces challenges. Everybody is unique.”

Zach and his brother talk at a variety of events, go on podcasts, discuss their book on shows and are guests on news outlets and radio stations. They also organize school assemblies in high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools.

Along with being the top 0.1% of all books on Amazon, his story is also top ten in books about sibling relationships! It’s available on all platforms, in both physical and virtual copies, and apparently an audiobook will be coming out soon.

 Along with being featured segments on ABC news and Fox News, the Stehle brothers appeared as guests on “The Ausome Show” by Jamiel Owens, the “Disrupt the Everyday” podcast, the “Let’s Talk Autism” podcast and a few others.

Sean Wattman is a second-year psychology major with a minor in journalism.

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