Michael

My Struggle With Autism

Having been born in Odessa, Texas in 1987 it wasn’t long before I discovered my calling. I loved to draw. Ever since I was three years old I was drawing a lot and I never gave up on it. As typical of someone with autism I didn’t have a great deal of interest in many areas, I just loved drawing, reading comics and playing videogames. I was not one to make many friends or hang out in groups unless pressured by my family. There was one instance where they put me in Little League, although I wasn’t a huge sports fan. I was surprised to find I did as well as I did, but it never became something I wanted to pursue.

After going through high school I would study in the School of Visual Arts in 2005. It was wonderful learning about comic art, my field of interest, as well as fine art. After graduating with a BFA in cartooning I was hard-pressed for work. It was a real struggle for me to land a good job due to an unsteady economy and lack of experience. Plus I was in competition with a lot of people in my field. It put me through a real depression, but I still persevered. I eventually found work at some jobs like illustrating children’s books, working in retail and even becoming a critic for website Examiner.com. However, my autism made it difficult for me to hold a conversation for long, nor was it easy for me to meet new people and interact with them. This was problematic when it came to networking with people and finding leads.

Despite my autism I have constantly been attempting to improve myself, try new things and help others out in need. Even though I have a BFA I am not content to rest on my laurels. Rather, I continue to improve my art in ways I see fit, ranging from perspective to anatomy to color theory, etc. Every week I attempt to better myself in my chosen field in some way and I have learned the satisfaction that comes with self-improvement. If I were to receive a scholarship and continue my schooling it would bring out the best in my abilities.

Aside from improving my skills I also like to make a difference in my community. I was willing to sacrifice two years of my life to do volunteer work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah. There I picked up some new skills in office work and genealogy so I could help the public. I worked in a facility known as the FamilySearch Center from 2013-2014 so I could assist patrons in discovering their genealogies. In doing so I became more patient working with people and developed a genuine interest in assisting them in their time of need. Another thing I did was host genealogy presentations in computer labs in front of youths. Normally, I’m not big on meeting with large groups of people to give presentations, but working in that environment showed that I can be presentable in meaningful ways and reach out to others.

What was especially nice about my volunteer work was the fact it taught me to be an effective leader. In the FamilySearch Center I was assigned to manage the area by scheduling assignments for individual coworkers and delegating certain tasks to them. I discovered I could communicate the needs of the workplace to others in an informed, respectable manner, bringing out their best work.

In conclusion, I have dealt with much limitation in my life, yet I always try to make the best of my limitations, even overcoming them at times. I have learned to open up more and effectively lead others, plus I genuinely enjoy helping those I can.  I have had several letters of recommendation written by people who have known me and they all hold my work in very high esteem. If given the scholarship I would use it to the best of my ability and take the opportunity to learn and grow more as a person. I don’t ever want to stop learning and I don’t see how anyone could.