In life, persistence rarely exists without courage.  Enjoy this sweet story about both…

From my years serving individuals on the autism spectrum as a speech-language pathologist, there is a particular scene that has remained vivid in my memory. It was the end result of one of my high school students sitting in my office, sharing his despondence about the prospects of his crush from church attending prom with him. Jimmy (I’ll use a pseudonym) had a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, an amazing understanding of the technical workings of large machinery, a winning but hesitant smile, and some challenges with social interaction. Sitting in my office that day, he described for me a bubbly and kind girl in his church group whom he very much wanted to ask to prom. The problem was he didn’t have the faintest idea how to make that happen. So, we spent the next month’s worth of weekly sessions mapping out the situation, scripting what he might say, anticipating how the girl might respond, and talking through the types of non-verbal behaviors that might increase the odds of him achieving his desired outcome. Each week, Jimmy became more confident in the plan, and before long, he was ready to enact it on his own and hope for the best. Waiting for Jimmy to arrive in my office for our next session, I felt both nervous and excited. When he quietly walked into the office and sat down, I feared things hadn’t gone as we had hoped they would. But as a sheepish smile crept onto his face and his eyes met mine briefly, I realized I was wrong. Jimmy shared with me the story of his success, how easy it was after all, and how relieved he was that his crush accepted his invitation to prom. That spring, I made sure to sign up early to volunteer as a prom chaperone. Watching Jimmy and his date enter the room with ear to ear smiles on prom night, I felt fortunate to share in the joy that was the result of this brave young man’s persistence to connect and to share his life with others.

Blog post by: Dr. Kaitlyn Wilson

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