Saturday, February 18, 2012

Overcoming Barriers

Over the course of my life, I have overcome many barriers to achieve all the things that I have accomplished and reach the point I am at today.  In this blog post, I am going to discuss many of the barriers that I have vanquished.  We all hear that those on the spectrum have to overcome many challenges to live a successful, independent life.  However, I feel there is great uncertainty involved with this.  For many parents and individuals on the spectrum, looking to the future is like trying to peer through a vast fog, beyond which nothing is known for sure.  It is my hope by listing my challenges that I have overcome, I will pave the path for many parents who are looking for a glimmer of inspiration.

My first barrier I faced was a speech barrier.  When I was two years old, I lost what speech skills I had then obtained.  Gradually, my mom worked with me by talking to me and playing music.  Eventually, I was able to regain my verbal language skills.  My second barrier is what I will call my "shyness barrier."  Even after I regained my speech skills, I never really talked to anyone besides my parents.  Over time, I came out of my shell and made friends, some of which I know today, almost twenty years later.

The next barrier I overcame was the academic barrier.  Prior to eighth grade, I had nearly been held back a grade on more than one occasion.  It was a true achievement, not to mention surprise, to make the A/B honor role, with mostly special ed classes.  Through high school, I had to break through the wake of my depression I had experienced in middle school and gain more self confidence.  Continuing the honor role after moving out of special ed in science and history helped me to recognize that maybe I was as smart as people told me I was.  Throughout high school, I also made many friends and expanded my social boundaries.  Admittedly, many of these friends had no idea what I had experienced just a few years previously.

When I graduated from high school into college, I was doubtful my academic success would continue, since there is no special ed in college.  My first semester proved me how wrong I was.  I started college with a 3.84 GPA.  The lowest grade I received during the first academic year was an A-.  Now I have nearly completed college and have still received all A's, B's, and a handful of C's since I first started college.

When I started this blog, I broke a barrier as well.  Prior to that time, I considered knowledge about my autism to be private information.  Only family and a handful of friends knew that I was on the spectrum.  Sharing information and insight of my condition to faceless people I would never meet, was frightening initially.    Over time, I became more comfortable.  Right now, I know that I am making a difference because you have taken the time to read my words.  I hope that by sharing the challenges I have overcome, I might instill hope in others who really need it.

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