Seeing the Ability Through Vulnerability | Teen Ink

Seeing the Ability Through Vulnerability

May 20, 2019
By reemaaaa BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
reemaaaa BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Reading the list of winners, my heart started to beat out of my chest and my eyes went blurry.

Everyone has a goal in their life for what they want to achieve. Answers may vary, but mine? Mine was to find a cure for Autism. But why Autism you may ask. Autism is a complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors. As of now, there is no cure for Autism and some scientists cannot come to an agreement for a cause. The first time I was exposed to this concept was during an episode on Arthur, one of my favorite television shows when I was younger. A little boy with Asperger Syndrome, a developmental disorder affecting ability to effectively socialize and communicate, was featured on the show.

I was intrigued.

Hooked instantly.

In the second grade, we were asked to interview an adult about their job for career week. My mom’s best friend was a Developmental Pediatrician who worked with kids of many kinds. I decided that I would do my project on her and her area of expertise. I asked her about the different people she treats in her office and how she became a developmental pediatrician. I was exposed to the medical field because my dad was a doctor, but the field of development was taboo. After I finished my project and presented it to the class, my teacher recommended my mom to help me explore this area more in depth as I showed immense interest in the subject. My mom found a nurse who specialized in special needs and asked her if I can join a support group for kids who have family members with special needs. I had been going to the support group till my age maxed out at thirteen years old. Little did I know that I would return here my sophomore year of high school,mentoring young children that were in the same exact place as me.

When I started going to n middle school, I joined an after school club called Best Buddies. In that club, students were partnered up with other children from the special education program. We did various activities together like go on field trips and  got to know the Special Ed students as a person in hopes to make long term friendships.

On June 4th, 2016, I participated in my first Autism Walk. The Autism Walk is an annual 5k walk that raises awareness and funds for people who have been impacted by Autism. Seeing everyone come together to support one cause melted my heart. I felt a sense of unity. I have never met someone with Autism before and I did not feel like people in our society have made an effort to include and accommodate people who function different than us. I could never understand why a girl in middle school was able to accept and embrace people who talk, walk or act differently than us, but most adults turn them down and view them as disabled. Viewing the world from their eyes and walking in their shoes, made them out to be anything but disabled. If you had to live in a world where no one could understand you and you had to figure out a life that was designed to challenge your abilities, wouldn’t you feel frustrated and the need to give up? Most of us cannot stop complaining and whining about how hard our lives are because we undergo minor stress such as tests and friendships.  But the special kids that I have met never once complained about the way God made them or the challenges ahead of them. Despite the odds being stacked against them and the negavity presented to them, I have never seen them without a smile on their face. They are full of love and life. They lacked hatred and rage. Would you push those people away from you and call them disabled? If anything, they are heros in our community that are left forgotten and I was determined to change that.

Transitioning from eighth grade to high school, I joined an after school activity similar to Best Buddies. It was called Hawk Pals. During Freshman year, I started to hear about how some people linked vaccinations with Autism. Part of me was offended, as people are so quick to rush to accusations before deeply learning about a sensitive subject. I was determined to research as much as I can and learn as much as I can to stop these ignorant correlations. Haven’t you wondered why some people disagree with what doctors have said about this topic? People who have dedicated their  life to science and live their whole life trying to save lives. Why do people go against them? It was then that I knew that I wanted to go to Medical School. I wanted to dedicate my life to know about this disorder more than anyone. I wanted to run more studies more than any scientist, researcher, or doctor. I wanted to educate the public. I wanted to raise awareness. I wanted to find a cure. I wanted to remove the negative stigma when people heard the word “Autism.”

Which brings us here.

In April of my Junior year, I submitted a research project about diagnosing Autism during pregnancy and reversing symptoms before the child’s critical period, which is before 12-18 months of age, to Northwestern University, an elite and top university in the United States of America. If chosen, I would present my research to a panel of judges about my scientific findings.

On May 10th, 2019, I received one of the most exciting emails in my high school years. I was congratulated as my project was chosen to be presented at the University. Although it was past midnight, I screamed and jumped for joy as I read my name on list. I did a doubletake to make sure it was actually me. Happiness and joy filled my night as I realized my lifelong goal was already taken off.  

On May 29th of 2019 I will give my presentation at Northwestern to a panel of judges. The projects selected will be displayed as part of Northwestern University's Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition. To this day, I continue to research and prepare for my presentation.

Through the fear of letting down an amazing group of people , I choose to dedicate my life to advocate for them, accommodate for them, and change the world for them. Fear is often a vulnerability we conceal. Something we hide away. Wouldn't you want to hide your weakness from this scary world? Or, would you rather take that vulnerability and reciprocate it into something you're passionate about to make a positive impact on this world? My biggest fear is leaving this world without making an impact.

The author's comments:

This piece was a narrative I wrote for my English class demonstrating how fear and weakness can lead to success with the presence of good decision making.

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