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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 21, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Mr. Williams, yes I would love to have him contact me for advice. As a former CCRI student, I have tons of positive things about it. CCRI is an amazing school, especially when it comes to accommodating individuals with Asperger's.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:23 AM
MeanE, Thank you for the wonderful article. I have heard so much about wonderful companies willing to hire people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Thank you again. I will share this with everyone.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Stefanie, your son is such an amazing young man. I know he will go to college and be successful. With the right supports and lots of encouragement he will do it. He will make you proud. I wish him and you the best of luck. Tell him that I am very proud of him and that he is a very smart and amazing young man. Give him lots of praise for me.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Thank you Mark.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Thank you English first!!
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Thank you Cynthia!!
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Lorna, You are very welcome. I want to thank you for your support. Your son is an amazing young man and with the right supports he will go to college. He will amaze you and make you proud. I wish him the best of luck. Tell him he is smart and amazing. Give him tons of praise for me.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Thank you Cecelia!!
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Thank you Alum!!
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Thank you Cheryl!! I am very proud of my success. To me, finding a career that I love will make life much more successful. Also, having a steady paycheck and paying taxes will make me even more successful. I say this because I get to give back what I had been given to help me succeed through my bumpy times to help me get back on my feet. Thank you so much for your wonderful support.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Thank you very much for the wonderful advice Samantha. I am very lucky to be transferring to URI because at URI, they offer such wonderful internships. I feel an internship will not only allow me to learn some great skills, but also will give mt the confidence I need when I do finally get that career.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Thank you J. for your wonderful compliment. I feel that working very hard to get where one wants to be is very important. No matter who you are, I feel that hard work will pay off with the greatest rewards.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Thank you np. I am very excited about going to URI and getting my Bachelor's.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Thank you la_mouffette. I feel that people with Autism Spectrum Disorders can do anything. No matter what severity of the ASD, there is some amazing talent or skill that should be utilized. By utilizing this skill, it will make one feel very successful. The workforce has many careers out there for everyone and I feel that people with ASD's should be a part of it.
Maya Lincoln June 21, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Thank you TheOneCalledZed. I am very proud of you and your workers. You are an amazing person, who allows people with Asperger's a wonderful career and sees the wonderful talents they have. I wish that there are many other employers like yourself. I want to wish you and your employees the best of luck. You all are amazing individuals and I am proud of you all.
Carol Wilson-Allen June 21, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Thanks Maya! What a wonderful accomplishment. Continue with your education. This is a time God is allowing you to go forth while on social security. Thank of it in a positive way. Take advantage of this moment in your life. You never know what doors God will open once you have your BA Degree. Thanks so much for sharing. Never let your disability hinder what God has laid in your heart to do. Stay encouraged and never give up! God Bless you and keep up the good work!
Karen Salvatore June 22, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Bravo Maya! Thanks for sharing your touching story. I have been inspired by several teens with Asperger’s Syndrome who have attended my summer camp. Their attention to detail is a real asset. Wishing you the very best in the future.
Chris Pierce June 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Maya - many thanks for your story. My son is 10 with Asperger's and I can already see the challenges he will have in the real world once he turns 18. I love your insight and look forward to more articles.
Lorna June 22, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Thank you Maya! He amazes and makes me proud everyday! Best of luck to you.
Maya Lincoln June 22, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Thank you Carol. I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunities that I was blessed with. I continue to be very thankful for where I am today. God Bless you and thank you for the wonderful support.
Maya Lincoln June 22, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Thank you Karen. I want to wish you and your teens the best with everything. It is so wonderful that you give them so much encouragement and support. The support you give them will take them a long way in life and their future. You are an amazing woman. Keep up the good work. I am very proud of you and the kids.
Maya Lincoln June 22, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Thank you Chris. I wish the best for your son. With all the right support, he will do great. Your encouragement will help him through. Please give your son tons of praise for me. He will go to college and make you proud.
Emily Petit June 22, 2012 at 11:37 PM
You rock Rhode Island's socks, Maya!
Maya Lincoln June 23, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Thank you Emily for all of your wonderful support. You are amazing yourself. I wish you all the best.
Linda Brunetti June 25, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Maya, you are an inspiration to all but especially to those on the spectrum. My son is 18 and has ASD. He goes to college full time and he also works part time. HE has received services from an agency and with their help he has flourished. He has held a fundraiser for our community for 2 years in a row and has won the United Way's Jefferson Award for volunteerism. People with ASD need to hear these wonderful success stories to help them believe that they too can be successful. I love your term "differability" and it is wonderful to see that you have not let ASD define who you are but YOU are defining yourself and your future. I wish you all the best in the years to come. I hope I can read more about your successes so that I can share them with my son.
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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