To my 25-year old self on the day I receive my diagnosis,
I know you have a lot emotions going through your head right now.
1) Relieved- because you finally find out why you struggled in clinical internship.
2) Depressed- because you realize you actually have a disability AND you have a strike against you in your journey to become an occupational therapist.
3) Angry- because you wished mom listened to your gut instincts to let you get tested several months earlier.
4) Stressed- because now you are trying to figure out what accommodations will work for you while trying to juggle school work in the midst of your second year of graduate school, on top of building your social skills because you know you need it to succeed not only as a clinical internship student again, but also as an occupational therapist once you pass 2 of these internships and the subsequent licensing exam. You also don’t want to feel that your parents wasted $100,000 on a degree that actually doesn’t pan out.
5) Shy- because you don’t want to be a buzzkill to your classmates celebrating the fact that most of them have passed their clinical internships and tell them not only you failed, but also the fact that you just found out you have autism.
6) Doubtful- because you believe that an autistic occupational therapy practitioner is unheard of.
But on the bright side, you have an opportunity to do things few in the occupational therapy community has ever done. You will get your opportunity when you finish your masters degree in occupational therapy (which includes both course work and passing 2 clinical internships).
I wish I can tell you what you have really done since that very day. I wish I can tell you that your classmates are actually jealous of what you have done. I also wish to tell you that you are actually well known globally in the occupational therapy profession. But I know you will say I am joking unless you see concrete proof, even though you know I am a business like person almost all the time. So, the thing I can say to you is- keep fighting on… one day you will realize that I wasn’t kidding.
Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L
Bill attended USC for his masters degree in occupational therapy at USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy from 2009 to 2011, and clinical doctorate degree in occupational therapy degree in 2012 to 2013. He currently works as an occupational therapist in the skilled nursing facility setting. However, Bill is always passionate about autism related issues in occupational therapy since he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in August 2010. Bill was selected to be a speaker at TEDxGrandForks in February 2015. His presentation title at that TEDx event was Fighting On: Overcoming Diagnosis.
The Art of Autism is accepting Dear Me letters and videos from autistic people and their parents. Email theartofautism @ gmail.com