My son diagnosed himself with
Asperger’s Disorder, a high-functioning autism, while in high school. A
psychiatrist later confirmed his diagnosis. Then, when he was attending Abraham
Baldwin Agricultural College, he underwent extensive testing through Georgia
Board of Regents Center for Learning Disorders. The Center gave Patrick a
detailed evaluation of his condition. Through it all, Dr. Susan Roe, his
advisor, never let him forget he was valuable, talented, and highly intelligent.
Patrick is now in the music
program at Valdosta State University. He admires his music professors and speaks
of them with great respect. When he calls me, he shares the successes of others
in the music program, thrilled at their achievements. If Patrick is anything,
he is a person who wants his friends to succeed, even as he himself has to slow
his pace to make it through certain classes and situations.
What is Patrick other than a
young man in the autism spectrum? He is a man who loves his family. He is a
team player. He is a free thinker and a tolerant person. He looks for the best
in his friends and in his teachers. His interest in music is nearly obsessive
and so is his interest in reading and writing. When Patrick sings, his body language reveals how much he enjoys the music. He is a
young man with a great future ahead of him.
Autism does not define my
son. His heart defines him.
Today, I will wear blue for
autism and for Patrick Ireland.
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