There are plenty of kids with Asperger’s who make their way through college. We thought for sure that MJ would be one of them. But we gave up on the college dream when MJ’s level of success in her classes proved to be difficult and inconsistent. We couldn’t endure the struggles anymore and we both decided that it was time to stop fighting over it and try another path to employment. That was about 2 and a half years ago. So, it is with great excitement I report that with only 3 more classes to go MJ can graduate from community college!
It can be hard to explain to people who know MJ why she can’t get through a typical college experience. She certainly seems capable when you speak with her. She’s so obviously intelligent and her knowledge about space is impressive. They ask me, “Why doesn’t she become an engineer?” Believe me, we’ve tried our best. I’ll attempt to recap our efforts here. But before I go there I want to tell you how she ended up back in school.
MJ is a cat lover. She relates to them in a lot of ways. Sometimes she says “Cats are people.” When I asked what she meant by that she explained that they are independent, they live along side us and not just follow us the way dogs do. Nothing against dogs, but I can see what she means.
She can be very cat-like herself… the way she takes frequent naps, stretches out on the floor, shows her affection, and of course, displays insatiable curiosity. There’s a cute book called All Cats Have Asperger’s Syndrome, by Kathy Hoopmann, which combines photos of cats with information about Asperger’s syndrome and why people with it are different. It’s a fun way of helping people understand why kids with Asperger’s have such unique qualities.
MJ likes to talk about living in an Airstream. While I can see the appeal and I like the idea of living small, I don’t think she’d actually enjoy living in an Airstream. Her reasoning is that she can’t imagine having to deal with a mortgage. She definitely has a goal of living independently so she’ll need to learn to manage the ingoing and outgoing streams of money. Here’s an update on a couple of steps we’ve taken towards that goal.