Sandy Petrovic is a registered nurse, an author, a public speaker, an instructional advisor/tutor in a college academic support center, and the mother of a son on the spectrum. For more about us, click here.
Meet my hero, David Petrovic: a son, a brother, a friend, a teacher, an actor, and…incidentally…a person on the spectrum. Autism is not David’s first identifier. HOWEVER, it IS the component that demanded him to look within to learn about and analyze his differences in order to best meet his needs. Without autism, he may not have been so introspective, and hence, not as fortunate.
In his words, David may have autism, but EVERYONE has SOMETHING. We all have differences and struggles that require self-recognition and adjustments to function to capacity. But often times people deny their issues, along with the help that would ease their burdens. I am actually thankful for the opportunity that autism provided Dave to search his soul, take an honest look at his needs and strengths, and discover a freedom in self-acceptance that very few people enjoy. His willingness to acknowledge the challenges of his autism, and further, to obtain the necessary help and support to work with those challenges, has changed David’s trajectory. His openness, humility, and utilization of critique have generalized to all areas of his life, allowing success and happiness that he never expected to enjoy. Dave thus evolved from an embarrassed, isolated, and insecure adolescent to a young man who is fulfilled and positively influencing the lives of others.
David has truly made lemonade from lemons. Yearning to have the world understand the person behind the diagnosis, Dave took to public speaking in high school to be a voice for others who may not be able to express their deepest sentiments, fears, or desires; this effort has spread through several states and even culminated in a TEDx Talk. By college graduation, the desire to educate continued in book form; David and I co-authored Expect a Miracle: A Mother/Son Asperger Journey of Determination and Triumph, allowing others true comprehension and experience via walking in our shoes. Other articles and interviews followed, which dispersed his messages further.
Educating outside of his classrooms as well as within, Dave has done so much to change the stereotypes of autism abilities. He personifies that the desires and potentials of persons on the spectrum are no different than those who are not…what is “typical” anyway!? In so doing, David has given hope and mentorship to countless individuals and their families, and he has revealed new perspectives to educators, health care providers, and the community at large. He has also improved the lives of youth and teens by educating on the experiences of being bullied; he speaks to them of acceptance of differences and living with compassion, always concurrently enlightening listeners about life with autism.
Wise beyond his 24 years, Dave has transformed his hardships into inspiration and life lessons for others. (To experience this firsthand, see www.aspergermiracles.com) I am so proud of the man David has become!
What a blessing my son’s autism has been…to him and to the world!