My Inner Strength and Willpower Will Get Me Through!

My Autism Story - Sean

Sean Sullivan's Autism StoryBy Sean Sullivan

I have autism, and I am very proud of this fact. I think of my autism as a gift and super power!

My autism has helped me understand others feelings. For example, since I am autistic I know what the pain of being bullied is. For the most part people who have disabilities are treated like freaks by others…and for immature, belligerent, and oppressive reasons such as feeling superior or for entertainment.

The kind of disability you have will likely determine what people say to you and what actions people take towards you. Try to think how you would feel if you had autism? Try to think how you would feel if you were blind or deaf? What would your behaviors be like? When you actually experience something first hand in your life you have a better chance of relating to those who have also experienced the same thing. Likewise, if you are willing to look at things from their perspective you will also understand. Unfortunately today’s society makes it very hard for us to share our experiences and give advice to others. After doing a lot of research, I feel that the two main causes for this are:

  1. People instinctively do not want to listen to other people because they think that they have all the answers. I believe that the reason for this is pride.
  2. The second reason is most jobs that allow you to convey ideas to others require a whole of training and a whole lot of education.

Since we are on the subject of education, the college and higher education system in the U.S.A has a one-size-fits-all approach. Often those of us with autism are the ones who need extra help. That extra help comes in the form of specialty teachers and therapists. There is some help for autistic individuals at younger ages but when they reach the age for higher education they fall through the holes and cracks of the spider’s web.

Based on my personal experience, grade school and higher learning institutions have differences and expectations that are world’s apart. This is a very bad thing for anyone with any kind of cognitive learning and developmental disabilities.

The first difference for me was that grade school was free, the books were free, and so was transportation. College is certainly not free in any sense of the word. Yes, community college has minimal to zero tuition, registration, and entrance fees but they do charge a lot for books. Transportation is not free. Grade school campus sizes are much smaller than even the smallest community college. For me, trying college out was very daunting not to mention overwhelming. Navigating my grade school was much easier than navigating a community college.

When I was in grade school, there were no grade point average requirements at all but now I feel the pressure to have a super high g.p.a. in college. I don’t feel as though I have the support, accommodations and professors who do not understand my special needs. I hope you can feel my frustration and understand my struggle.

However, in no way am I saying I will give up. Far from it! I will learn to adapt and make my own path. If there is no way for me to get to the top of the mountain through traditional education, I will make my own way. If there is no solution to a problem I face then I will make a solution.

Most importantly my negative feelings and emotions can either be alive or not alive inside me. Do I want to be strong or weak? My inner strength and will power will get me through my challenges.

So what do I want to gain from sharing my story? My hope is that it will help others see the world from the perspective of people with disabilities. I want to raise awareness that people with autism are intelligent. We just have a different way of showing and expressing it! My goals are to get my name out into the community, get a job and do public speaking. I want to help people with disabilities.

*Editor’s Note: Thank you Sean for sharing your personal essay with us! In his own words, he speaks about the impact of his not having special services and support beyond high school. His is one autism story. Everyone on the autism spectrum is unique and special so please share your autism stories with us so we can publish them and shine a light on autism. Together we can create a world of understanding and acceptance.

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About Jodi Murphy

I am the founder of Geek Club Books, autism storytelling through mobile apps for awareness, acceptance and understanding. My mission is to use the art of storytelling and technology to entertain and educate for the social good. I am a 'positive' autism advocate, mother of an awesome adult on the autism spectrum, lifestyle journalist, and marketing specialist.


  1. Mary Beth Gawenus says:

    I love this article. Every thing is so true in it. It is great to have a positive attitude. Great essay Sean!!!!!

  2. Linda Denmark says:

    Your essay reminded me of my own situation and struggles. I have high functioning autism and a crazy sensitivity to fluorescent lights that makes me spasm and yip like a kicked puppy. It is very disturbing to both those around me and even more so to me since I have no control over this when I am in the presence fluorescent lights. When I was in college I struggled through several years of graphic design/art education and managed to pull off a 3.96 gpa and get my degree. The problem was that because of my struggle with the overwhelming affect of the classroom environment and the noise and lights, I did not succeed with my art and I really felt incompetent. Now, at almost 68 years old, I decided to see if art would help me recover from a stroke. I found an online art course and signed up and under natural lighting at home and LED lighting in my work lamp, I have made more progress in three months on my own than I did in three years of a classroom environment. I have the added benefit that my stroke issues have almost disappeared, just from determination and hard work with my pencil. My right hand was not working right and I had some visual disturbance with overlapping images. The drawing has helped me to focus and use both and the improvement is amazing. So Sean, just keep that positive attitude and do whatever works for you to reach your goals.

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