They told my parents I wouldn’t talk; Now I’m graduating from college

My parents were told by professionals that I would never learn how to read, write, go to school without assistance, or even talk.

However, after my parents divorced and my mother raised my older brother and me herself, I learned to do all these things in spite of my frustrations. My mother never gave up and just treated me like a “normal” child.

Throughout my school years, I was taking special education classes, which seemed to help me pretty well with my academics.  Still, it seemed that many of my classmates neglected me throughout the years, with the exception of inviting me to birthday parties and events in middle school.  High school wasn’t so bad, but after my junior year, I no longer needed to take special ed.  It was harder for me, but I was able to pull through just fine.

Around that time, I realized I wanted to be an actor after understanding how easily I can remember my lines as I repeat them from television.  I joined Stage Right Performing Arts and remained part of their team for four years.

I graduated high school in 2011 and attended college.  However, I knew things were not going to be easy.  Since I didn’t qualify for OVR and I didn’t ask disability services for much help earlier, I had trouble with some of my classes, became less interested in following my dreams, and during my fourth year of college, I almost went through a horrible depression and felt the need to give up until I decided to call my dad for advice.  When he told me that it wasn’t the end of the world, I made a new discovery.

Instead of giving up, the first thing I did was go to the gym to help think of what I could do.  After that, I decided to get some help.  I was encouraged by my family to get another diagnosis and attempt once again to apply for OVR.  During the winter, I was diagnosed again with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I also had a counselor observe me to see if I qualified for OVR.  Over the summer, not only did he think that I qualified, but he was quite surprised that I was denied OVR a few years earlier!

My girlfriend also encouraged me to go to therapy sessions to help me with my anxiety, and it did!  Rather than taking medication (which at first, I did, until I felt it made me feel nothing), I decided to use some spiritual healing; using techniques such as meditation, exercise and yoga.  All of those combined helped me feel more comfortable with my thoughts and helped me realize how I can organize my thoughts more.

Also, as an aspiring theatre actor on the spectrum myself, I go to Stage Right Performing Arts to mentor children at an Autism Theatre Class or summer camp, where those on the spectrum rehearse pieces of a chosen musical and perform it in front of an audience.  Surprisingly, most, if not all, perform very well and do an amazing job, with mine and the other mentors’ help as well during their performances.

Speaking of shows, I will be performing my first starring role as an actor at my church, where I will be signing a contract, in an original Christian comedy-drama play set for Thanksgiving.  On top of that, I will be participating in future concerts with gospel performance artist, Nikesha (Nikki) Moore.

I will also be performing as a motivational speaker at the Autism Awareness banquet this fall, as well as speaking at a class in Saint Vincent College about growing up with autism.  What I’m also doing for my life is writing a memoir, novel, self-help book and philosophical book.

As you see in this post, life for me is not about finding the root of my autism, but really about finding how to cope with it.  Life has always been a challenge for me, and it still is; but I’m not giving up. I don’t graduate until the winter, but at least I am still graduating.  Just keep coping with your challenges, embrace your fears, and most of all, find your strengths.  In other words, just keep going.

How, you may ask?  My example is doing the things I love listed above, and that’s what matters.

 

I was diagnosed with autism when I was eight years old.  Before that, I experienced some odd behavior, such as staring at the television, repeating lines from television shows over and over, and expressing random obsessions.  From the time I was nine or ten years old, I expressed my obsession with Abraham Lincoln, about whom I have a whole lot of knowledgeable information. During my early childhood, I had a speech delay and had an obsession with telephones.  Each time I saw a phone, I would pick it up as if I was answering, and say to no one, “Hello!  Abadubaduh…bye-bye!” and hang up.

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