Hard work pays off for man with Asperger's

January 4, 2009 7:11:45 AM PST
Two out of every 10,000 children are diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a spectrum of autism. People with Asperger have a lot of the same qualities as those with autism, but are usually higher functioning, which makes many of them unique. We may have a much better understanding of the different functions of people with Asperger's syndrome. But not as much as those who have it.

"The most difficult thing for me, I would probably have to say, keep my mind focused, because I have a tendency to be distracted. I demonstrated throughout the course of my life I sometimes have a difficulty of keeping myself focused," said 25-year-old Maurice Snell.

Snell has come a long way. We first met Maurice in 2003 when he was a student at Saint Xavier University.

"I graduated in May of 2006 with a bachelor's in liberal studies," Snell said.

Education isn't the only thing that interests him. He has music talent. He picked this up as a child. Now he performances with a group called The Natural.

Maurice also has a job.

"I currently am employed by the Easter Seals Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research," said Snell.

Maurice's mom Jenifer says he was a happy bubbly baby until his first birthday.

"He stopped talking, he stopped laughing, he stopped trying to communicate in any type of way. He was very solemn sullen, he was very sad , he didn't respond at all," Jenifer said.

"He went to the doctors and to the specialists, and everyone said, 'Wait, he's developing slowly. He's going to be okay.' But actually it wasn't, 'til I would say between age 3 and 4, before we got an autistic-type label for him through the school district."

This was just the beginning.

"We took it one day at a time and we did. We fought and we talked and we met people and we met specialists and we listened to one specialist and then another specialist. We didn't always agree, we just kept moving forward, and we just kept moving forward, and we saw some improvements. A little improvement here, a little improvement there," said Jenifer.

All that hard work has paid off.

"I speak to him sometimes about the future," said Jenifer. "He says he wants to work on a master's degree, which is great if he can do that. He says he wants to get married, says he wants to have children, he wants to move out and have his own place."

"I don't want to be too far from family because my mom doesn't want that," said Maurice. "I'm most proud that I graduated from college because college gave me a head start on my life."

Maurice has his goal set for this year: getting into to a master's program. It won't be easy, but seeing how much he has accomplish, he'll do well.

Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago's New Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research

Asperger's Disorder Homepage


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