So how does a person with Asperger's syndrome move forward to become a nurse anesthetist, military aviation photojournalist, author, public speaker, advocate and founder of a non profit organization?
Just like the answer to "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"
"When I was in elementary school, the Principle said to my mom that I would never amount to anything. Prior to 1994 when Asperger’s got translated into English, children went undiagnosed, and were simply viewed as the weird kid who didn’t fit in. The school system had no idea what to do with me. As I’ve now come to learn as I meet others my age, this was how it was for us back then. There was no such thing as early intervention, BCBA’s to work with you, no kinds of therapy, nothing. But here’s what I can tell parents with children on the Autism Spectrum: There’s really only one way to get better at socializing and functioning in society- and that’s PRACTICE. Get out there and interact with people. Sure, you’ll make plenty of mistakes. But it’s not about falling. It’s about getting up. I feel like I truly have a gift to share with millions of people. I’ve built a bridge from my Autistic side over to the Neurotypical side. Because I’ve worked at a job that literally forced me to interact with hundreds of thousands of people over the past 26 years, and being the only Autistic person in an ocean of “normal” people, I’ve learned how to interact AND act in the typical world. I never had any therapy, interventions, no drugs, no NOTHING. Just plain old fashioned interactions with others."
In an article published on the CDC web site Anita Lesko stated,"My gift of Asperger disorder gives me the ability to have what I call my ‘laser focus.’ It’s the ability to stay focused on a project for extreme periods of time with total focus and concentration. For example, once while in the emergency room for a broken wrist, the anesthesiologist who came to give me sedation started talking to me as we waited. He asked what I was studying in college, to which I replied ‘nursing.’ He suggested I become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. My ‘laser focus’ took over, and a year later after receiving my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, I was accepted at Columbia University in their Master’s degree program for Nurse Anesthesia. I graduated, passed my Board exam, and have been working full time ever since!"
Anita Lesko, RN, MS, CRNA
Read more about Anita in an article published on the CDC website. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/features/living-with-autism-spectrum-disorder-anita.html
Visit Anita's website and learn more about her books and "Flying high with autism foundation".