By David Petrovic
My name is David Petrovic. I am a senior at Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio, and I aspire to be a teacher. My mom and dad have made me the man I am today, and I continue to shape the man I want to be. Oh, and I have Asperger’s Syndrome.
The beginning of high school was very stressful since I mainstreamed into a “regular” school. Though I had one transition year in the eighth grade, I was used to the enrichment and accommodations at my elementary school. When I got to high school, I had to seek them out myself. My mom and I collaborated with the school to establish a plan that met my needs, and the teachers were very supportive. Though I had to work much harder, seeing results kept me motivated.
The need to ask for help was instilled in me at a young age, but it was hard. I was still insecure with my diagnosis and I just wanted to be like everyone else. My teachers did not treat me differently, but some of my peers bullied me. As my social skills therapy and maturity progressed, I was able to accept who I was as a human being. What followed was a chain reaction: I valued help and I became the best “me” possible. I received information about my diagnosis; in turn, I educated my peers.
What I learned from high school was the importance of seeking help, taking advantage of resources, and being organized. Parents, assure your teen that there is no shame in asking for help. If anything, it’s a sign of growth. When I ask for help, I excel in ways I never knew I could. Also, have your teen take full advantage of available resources. With the resources and skills to stay up-to-date, or even ahead of the game, your teen can reach new heights.
What I feel I have to stress most in this article is advocacy. For the majority of my early academic years, my mom and elementary school teachers advocated for me, but now I am able to advocate for myself. Going after the help I deserve gives me the appropriate means and resources to reach my full potential. So give your teen opportunities to practice independence and pursue greatness. When it comes down to it, everyone needs a helping hand.
David Petrovic and his mother, Sandy Petrovic, are co-authors of, Expect a Miracle: A Mother/Son Asperger Journey of Determination and Triumph. For more information, visit aspergermiracles.com.