First Semester in College with Autism

Megan Kirkpatrick

Hi, I’m Megan. I’ve lived with Autism for most of my life and I recently finished my first semester at Parker University. It was a time of adaptation and a time of improvement on my own self-awareness. College is a whole new ballgame compared to high school. Although I maintained a positive attitude throughout my first semester, I still struggled with applying the information I obtained while in the classroom.  Thankfully, disability services through the university helped me so much!  Socially, I strived as I started discovering the various backgrounds of my peers, as well as what motivated them into choosing the field of Occupational Therapy. Most of my peers were from the medical field, while a handful of them were stay-at-home parents for 15-20 years and wanted to do something that held a purpose in their life. What I found interesting was that all of my peers were influenced by someone that had, or is related to someone that had, a diagnosis of Autism.

Autism really has an inspirational influence on certain types of people.  Autism has inspired me to become more than what the diagnosis says and be the person who overcame her diagnosis, rather than just be a stereotypical Autistic young adult. The classes I have taken in college all have a connection in my eyes to Autism as well, but some of those connections are not as good as others.

For instance, Autism was discussed in several of my classes, including my Lifespan of Occupational Therapy and mental health classes.  Autism in these classes was considered a mental illness or disease, which shocked me. I can personally say that I feel nothing but well and healthy.

Parents and guardians, your child’s diagnosis of autism does not define your children.  Autism was one of the best gifts in my life, because it gave me a chance to find my own way and create a career path in occupational therapy that I may not have had.  The way autistic people choose to live their lives is what defines them, and not based on what others see in them.

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