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.