When someone has a personal challenge, it makes it difficult at times to achieve success. It is not always easy for me to achieve success in life because I have a mild form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome affects many areas of my life. First, it affects my ability to learn, making success in school a struggle. Next, Asperger’s interferes with the ability to understand social situations, making success at work difficult. In addition, this disability affects the ability to communicate with others in personal relationships. I feel I have overcome many of the difficulties associated with my disability and have already achieved success in many areas of my life.
One area that Asperger’s Syndrome affects for me is learning. Although I have a photographic memory and superb mathematical skills, abstract ideas are difficult for me. I taught myself to read at three years old, but I did not always understand what I was reading. Writing was difficult for two reasons. First, the physical act of writing was difficult due to fine motor skill deficits that made handwriting and printing hard. Using a keyboard eliminates this problem. Second, Asperger’s Syndrome affects expressive language, so expressing ideas has been a struggle. I read a story and understand the facts, but the “big idea” often eludes me. Despite these learning disabilities, I graduated in the top fifteen percent of my high school class, a member of the National Honor Society, and received the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship for Advanced and Proficient MCAS scores.
In addition to learning, work is not always easy for me, and I have to try harder than most employees. I am a part-time cashier at Stop-and-Shop where I interact with customers and colleagues. Asperger’s’ affects the ability to understand social cues and acquire social skills such as being able to read body language, and start or maintain conversations. I may appear to lack empathy, to misunderstand and confuse jokes, and to take sarcasm literally. This often makes work a struggle. Some people may not understand my social awkwardness, despite the fact that I’m trying my hardest to communicate with them. My social disability, however, has not prevented me from succeeding at work for the past year and one half.
In addition to a learning disability and difficulty in the working world, social relationships are not easy for me. Asperger’s interferes with the ability to take others’ perspective and have empathy. Without empathy and perspective taking skills, it’s very hard to carry on a conversation. Conversation is one of the main things that make relationships and emotional connections possible. Sometimes conversation seems like a meaningless, confusing ritual. I am still struggling with the ability to make and keep friendships. It will be a life-long effort to make and maintain more friendships.
Achieving success when one has a personal challenge can be difficult. Asperger’s syndrome has presented me with significant educational, professional, and personal challenges. With determination and perseverance, I have managed to overcome many of my difficulties and achieved success at school, work, and socially. I live by the words of Liberace: “Nobody will believe in you unless you believe in yourself.”