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Being a College Graduate with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

How my life is after I graduated from the Community College of Rhode Island with an Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies.


On May 18, 2012, I had graduated from the Community College of Rhode Island with an Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies. I am also a person who happens to have a disability on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, called Asperger’s Syndrome. I also happened to be on Social Security disability, which allowed me to qualify for federal Pell Grants to help me pay for school.

What does this all tie into?

One main reason is the recent statistic about people with Autism Spectrum Disorders have one of the highest rates of unemployment, including ones with Asperger’s syndrome who have even high degrees, even Master’s and PhD’s. I originally went back college because I was sick and tired of sitting in day programs for the developmentally disabled, which were not appropriate for someone of my intellectual level anyway. I needed a job where I could apply my wonderful skills, which include researching any type of information, attention to detail, organizing information, and anything related to my love of medical knowledge.

So long story short, I went to the Community College of Rhode Island to originally become a histology technician. A histology technician prepares tissue that is taken into a pathology laboratory, then sections pieces of the tissue, and stains it, getting it ready for a diagnosis, usually by a pathologist. However, due to a dexterity issue, I had to leave that program and just concentrated on my general studies Associate’s.

When I finally did graduate I had graduated with honors. But of course due to the difficult job market out there, I am still living on Social Security. One may wonder, “Why am I complaining? At least I have income.” Yes, but it is not something that I wanted to keep after I graduated. But unfortunately, the way the economy and the job market out there, especially for ones on the spectrum, it is my only way to survive. However, I do not believe in using my disability or receiving Social Security to just sit there, give up, and do nothing.

Instead I made the decision to go on and try to achieve my Bachelor’s degree, as many of my fellow graduates. It is the best thing I can do to to help myself and my future. I figure maybe then, the economy will be much brighter, and with a Bachelor’s I will hopefully have more opportunities.

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Maya Lincoln June 26, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Linda, I am so very proud of your son. Your son's story proves that anyone can succeed with an ASD. Your son is an amazing young man. I wish your son the best of luck. Please give him tons of praise for me. I hope that one day that people will see the amazing abilities that people like your son and myself have. You are also an amazing mom for supporting him to the fullest and allowing him to be very successful. Thank you for your wonderful support.
Carol McKenna June 27, 2012 at 07:02 PM
My 14 year old son has Asperger's Syndrome. He has had his struggles in middle school, but through grit and determination, has perseverered and will be starting high school in the fall. He plans to go onto to college as well. He is very intelligent and creative and there are many possibilities for him. Your story is very inspiring to a parent like me. Thank you for sharing it!
Russell Archambault June 27, 2012 at 07:41 PM
@ maya. enough of what youve done. now i cant wait to see what you can do. i know you have great thought in detail. i bet you could help solve our city problems with your reasoning and thinking skills. our hope may be with you. i sure would listen to your ideas. give it a try. an absolute diamond in the rough !!
Maya Lincoln June 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Carol, thank you very much for all of your support. I am very proud of your son for all of his accomplishments in getting to High School. It is that same determination that has allowed me to be able to succeed through school. That same determination will allow your son to succeed. He will do amazing things and he will also go to college. I want to wish him the best of luck in High School. Please give him lots of praise and a HUGE congratulations for me.
Maya Lincoln June 28, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Thank you Russell for your support. Actually one of my biggest interest in my life is wanting to fix this system in general. As someone with a disability who is trying to succeed to be a full contributor to society, I feel that there are many things that need fixing. Not just economy and taxes in cities, but also in the country. Many people work very hard to succeed, but still struggle. I actually have an article that I submitted about my opinion and gripe with citizens being over-taxed. Thank you again for the wonderful idea.

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