I made many new friends recently at the November conference in Calgary. One, in particular inspired me to write this blog. Her remarkable brilliance shone like a beacon! Even as busy as it was, her drive to approach me was centered around her desire to see how she could help the cause of autism and advocate for others like herself. This was very unusual indeed, I thought, for a person with Asperger’s – to reach out and extend her own advocacy. It is usually the other way around. As many of us know, tenacity is quite a prominent trait for people with Asperger’s. Once they get an idea, they stay on it come rain, shine, hale, sleet, snow and even adversity – sometimes even at the expense of not being ‘cool’, like so many ‘normies’. As a result, not only do they accomplish their goal, but they also master it with excellence!
There she stood, patiently waiting until there was a spot to slip in and ask me how she could help out in her home town 7 hours away.
Her coy, shy demeanor was a giveaway. Knowing instantly that she was a person with Asperger’s, I was beyond elated to connect with her and talk about ideas. Through the course of the two days, I learned so much about her. Her passion for animals took her on a path to seek a career as a veterinarian.
So, there are her qualities – tenacity, brilliance, and mastery. Combine those with her ‘skill set’, compassion for animals, patience, love, empathy, math, intelligence and desire to accomplish something.
But even with the right recipe, many brilliant people get overlooked, out-numbered, neglected, rejected, or even ejected!
After 3 years actively into a university veterinary program, she was told to leave because the headmaster felt she wasn’t “normal enough” to be there. When she was told she wasn’t going to back out, she was forced out of the program.
Since then, she has started her University studies, aspiring for a science degree in immunology and microbiology. At this time, she is not certain she will pursue a career in veterinary medicine, but leaves the option open.
Devastation is not an option, even for this young lady. Her mother was quite disappointed about her not being accepted to the university, but has remained extremely supportive of her daughter and what she always chose to do. ‘Mom’ is always there to bat when she needs her, even through tough times. She admires her mother on several levels, and has a strong family support system in place as well. Without the love and support of her parents and brother, she would not be where she is today.
She is out there in full swing now, sharing her passions for those like her on a mission for advocacy to make changes. This type of rejection happens all too many times for this modern day and age. It’s time to turn the tables. I’m sure Dr. Temple Grandin would agree with her.
I hope and pray that some day, the colleges and universities will not only accept students with Asperger’s, but actually seek them out! I think you, the reader, might also agree. It’s time to turn off the walls and open the doors, folks! Let’s help the universities and workplaces realize what a wealth of minds they have right at their fingertips!