Wow! What a Decade

As David approaches a landmark birthday, I am amazed at what he has accomplished over the past ten years. These attainments are not remarkable simply because he has autism. It is important to realize that autistic people have strengths, abilities, goals, and needs just like anyone else. In fact, autism gave David some of the gifts, experiences, and perspectives that helped form the person he is today.  

Restated, David’s achievements would be outstanding for anyone, autism or not. But he did have to work harder against misunderstanding, less acceptance, and minimal opportunities. He did have to learn skills and accommodations that others do not have piled upon the usual stressors of daily life. And possibly because of these barriers, David learned endurance and lessons that many of his peers have yet to realize.  

Here is an incomplete look at David’s accomplishments this past decade:  

  • College graduation with honors 
  • A master’s degree 
  • Co-authoring our book, magazine articles, and a separate guest chapter 
  • Solo authoring of an award-winning children’s book and other writings 
  • Countless in-person and zoom presentations 
  • Presenting a TEDx Talk 
  • Establishing himself as a respected teaching professional 
  • Surviving Covid-lockdown (without getting Covid!) and learning from the adversity 
  • Moving into his own apartment during a pandemic 
  • Independent handling of finances and domestic responsibilities 
  • Gaining the skills and confidence to travel solo 
  • Achieving increased flexibility and sensory tolerance 
  • Forging his own path and seeking new dreams 

But, of all his accomplishments, I am most in awe of David being unequivocally himself, with kindness at his core. Whether it is dressing in his own style, staying true to his values, rebounding from disappointments, or supporting others in their times of grief or need, David has become a remarkable man who knows who he is and what is important in life. He accepts what is, and works toward what could be, with no resentment or regrets. 

Supporting and coaching David through the challenges of his autism accounted for only a fraction of his achievements. The grit, integrity, and resilience for the rest came exclusively from him. And I am so proud of the man he has become!  

I look forward to seeing what the upcoming decade has in store…I have learned that anything is possible!

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