Kevin's Story – The Epilogue

In this guest post Terry Matsunaga shares his son’s dream and their hope for other families who include children with high functioning autism.  This is the fourth installment of a series of guest posts by Terry that share his son Kevin’s journey to college.

Actually, this isn’t really an epilogue, rather a beginning. Kevin has made many inroads just by being at the University of Arizona. He has touched the lives of many faculty members who have never experienced anyone quite like him (I guess that is another way of saying he is unique!). Despite their lack of experience with students with autism, the faculty all give so much of themselves so Kevin still has that chance to chase his goals.

Some might say that Kevin is exceptional. Kevin never thinks of himself as exceptional. He just wants to be like anyone else, a normal student who embraces the American work ethic that hard work will get you some place. He wants nothing more than that. He just wants to be like every other normal college kid who wants to have a good career.

So what does this all mean? Well, nothing really. Just that even a kid with high functioning autism, if he has dedicated parents and support, may be able to find a place in college. It won’t be easy, for sure – Kevin knows that. There is no assurance that his college experience will even work out, but as we said in the beginning, Kevin doesn’t want to be the exception, he would rather be the rule. So maybe college is something that all parents with kids who have high functioning autism should consider. Try putting it on your radar screen. College will be one of the biggest challenges of your life, no question, but the rewards are tremendous. Just as Kevin said at his high school graduation, if you work hard and overcome your fears, maybe college won’t just be a dream, but a reality.

Of course, there are never any guarantees. Kevin doesn’t have his degree yet (whatever it will be), but he has made his “mark” at the University of Arizona. He continues to strive for that dream that once was so elusive he couldn’t even think about it and now it is within his grasp. Would anyone bet against him? Not a chance.

We’re rooting for Kevin here at TMC for Children and especially in Pediatric Therapies where Kevin and his family have spent many an hour. Terry, Kevin’s father who wrote this series, isn’t content to just help his son alone carve a path to college. This year Terry is dedicating much of his time and energies to creating a three-week pilot program that allows high schoolers with high functioning autism to enjoy a sample of college, and so help Kevin be the rule not the exception when it comes to college participation. The program would provide a simulation of college for the students with tasters in a wide range of subjects from Chemistry to Media Arts. They are currently seeking funding for the program.