Hello, my name is Paul Kwiatkowski. I am currently 21 years old. I am about to start my fourth year of university education. As a child I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a type of Autism. Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome include social problems, attention disorders, limited interests, and communication difficulties. My story will cover the most notable challenges of my condition and how they develop through my life. These challenges are both social and attentive cognition.
As a child in elementary school, I was frequently excluded from social groups. I was different in that I had no set interest and couldn’t focus on tasks with others. This led to me speaking and acting inappropriately among others. I because silent and isolated in high school due to my social differences. My silence was a result of peers reacting poorly to whatever I had to say. While everyone was forming peer groups, I was becoming comfortable with myself in silence. I became introduced to the game of tennis in high school where I met some significant individuals. I began to develop individual relationships with people sharing a common interest: tennis. In college, I took a program called Sport Science at Douglas College. While taking part in this program, I developed group relationships with people I met at school. I also became part of the Cross Country team at Douglas College, where I met people that enjoyed running. I became comfortable in group social environments. After graduating from Douglas College, I am now attending University of British Columbia, where I am part of many groups within the Kinesiology field of study. I am also part of a tennis circle of friends and a member of the UBC Varsity Cross Country and track and Field Teams. My social challenges from Autism allowed me to explore my social existence and find ways to flourish as I develop.
Attention and focus were things that I struggled with as a child. I couldn’t pay attention to any task due to a lack of motivation and interest. As I grew up, I began to find an avid interest in Lego. I spent a lot of time building Lego buildings and creations. Video games also played a role, as I could spend hours playing on the television. Going through elementary school, my schoolwork was below average. In high school, I still spent a lot of time playing video games. When I got introduced to tennis, my attention went to a new level as I now begin developing neurologically. Tennis helped stimulate time management skills, physical literacy, and energy. I felt great physically, mentally, and emotionally after playing tennis. This led to me developing a passion for the sport. Tennis helped me find a love for sport sciences at school, which facilitated an interest in post-secondary. Exiting high school, average grades. In college, I was exposed to the schoolwork that I really love. Being a student athlete, the college experience was very rewarding. I would focus on tennis and running, while studying sport sciences that I love. All though college, my grades were above average while I succeeded in athletics. I graduated from Douglas College with a Sport Science Diploma. I am currently attending the University of British Columbia school of Kinesiology. Here I have to work extra hard due to more difficult courses and more volume of work. I am currently pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary kinesiology. I have found a passion in neuromuscular mechanics, which is the anatomy, physiology, and physics behind the neural processes operating the control of the body. I am currently doing research at the sensorimotor physiology lab at UBC. I plan on doing a Masters and possibly a PhD in neuromechanics. Also, I want to pursue a career doing a clinical practice, like prosthetics, physiotherapy, or occupational therapy.
My life with Asperger’s Syndrome has been enjoyable so far to say the least. Currently, I struggle with communicating emotionally, and developing new interests. All of my relationships are fairly objective, but in order to get closer to some people, I need to learn to invest emotionally into the relationship. I am very objective with my thinking, so putting emotions into my life will be a challenge. All of my interests are revolving around sports and sciences, but I feel like I should find a way to do things that the general population does, like go dancing, or find some hobby.
This scholarship will help me complete my education through challenges in my life other than my Autism. I am living with a low income family, my mother my sister and myself. My father died in 2004 due to kidney cancer, and my mother hasn’t been able to work regularly since 2009 when multiple myeloma cancer took a portion of her right humerus. Also, my sister has recently contracted Hodgkin lymphoma. Basically, my family has been struggling financially, and is now carrying a health burden, and this leaves me to support my own education, and hope that my mother and sister can overcome their own challenges, with me being present to support them.