Friday, November 9, 2012

Self-Reflection on my college burnout year and my mission

Had a bathroom moment of self-reflection where I realized that the main reason I did not pursue a science or engineering degree is that, when I was starting college, I absolutely did not want to do anything that might require working with a lab partner. I took an astronomy course that had the lab component built into it for 4 credits under the same course number, rather than the 3/1 credit split between separate lecture and lab sections like most of the science offerings. I never went to the astronomy lab, but aced the lecture, mathematically making a C and confounding the professor. It was a weird choice. But it really wasn't much of a choice. The uncertainty of negotiating a lab was too much for me.

If nothing else, I wonder if some kind of social interaction support would have helped me that first year. Would I have held on to that National Merit Scholarship and Regents fee waiver? Who knows? That was really my first breaking point. Even though Asperger's was emerging as a diagnosis back then, my troubles my first year in college would have only started the process. I probably should have at least gone to campus health, but that, in itself was too insurmountable of a social barrier for me.

This is why I want to find my people when they're young and help them out. They need help to get them through those spots when they start to break down. Help troubleshooting what the real obstacles are. Help developing strategies to cope with environmental stresses and social unsurities. These are all things that never totally go away, but they can be dealt with more quickly.

An autistic burnout phase doesn't need to last for months or years. It could be just a day, or an hour, if the proper strategies and understanding are applied. These kids can be brilliant. They could be the ones who save the world.

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