The “Experts” Gave Michael Goodroe’s Parents Little Hope. Michael Proved Them Wrong.

Michael Goodroe

Through his parent’s love and support, Michael now is an author, has a third-degree black belt, a Master’s degree in Business Administration, and a career as a data processor.

By Ron Sandison

Michael Goodroe is an amazing young adult on the autism spectrum. He is the author of What Autism Gave Me: A Devastating Diagnosis to a Triumphant Life.

When Michael was diagnosed with autism and a low IQ at age 4.5, the experts and doctors warned his parents of all the things he would never accomplish and that he would probably live in a group home.

Through his parent’s love and support, Michael now is an author, has a third-degree black belt, a Master’s degree in Business Administration, and a career as a data processor.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael and hearing his journey with autism and how he overcome bullying and low expectations to have a triumphant life.

The most important thing my parents did to help me with my social skills was to treat me like I was any other child who had the potential to overcome challenges.

Michael H. Goodroe

Q & A

What were some early signs you were on the spectrum? At what age were you diagnosed with autism?

I was 4.5 years old when I was officially diagnosed. At the time, autism was not as prevalent only 1 in every 2000 children so even though I had early signs, I was not officially tested. Now it is 1 in every 54 children.

When I was two years old, my langue skills stopped progressing and my interaction with those around me decreased. I was able to say “words” but it was more like how a parrot talks. At age 4.5, I was unable to answer simple questions like: How old are you? What do you see in the picture? Where is the ball? My family describes me as being in my own world. I also could not do simple motor functions like swinging, walking on a line, and standing on one foot.

Did you experience sensory issues? If so how did you learn to handle them?

My sensory issues were not as overwhelming as some children with autism. I was sensitive to different clothing and was not able to sleep which I believe was directly related to a hearing sensitivity. I am not sure how I learned to handle them. Overtime, some of my sensory issues seemed to have calmed down.

Michael Goodroe and his mom

How did your parents help you to develop social skills?

The most important thing my parents did to help me with my social skills was to treat me like I was any other child who had the potential to overcome challenges. They helped me set small goals and gave me feedback on areas where I needed to improve. One example is that they suggested I ask people questions about their life. This helped me be a part of two-way conversation.

What was your greatest obstacle related to autism to overcome?

My testing demonstrated that I had problems with my IQ, motor skills, communication and social skills. This led to a diagnosis of “low-functioning” autism so the greatest challenge was to find a school and other activities that would accept me. At the time, there were not specific services available for autism so my parents did a great job of finding things to help me grow and develop.

Michael Goodroe Karate

How has karate helped you to develop skills in life?

I have been part of the same karate school for more than 26 years. When I started, it took me months to learn what other children accomplished in one class. Now, I am a third degree black belt. Karate has strengthened my motor skills which were documented as well below average of other children. It has helped me focus and helped my brain process information better. Another great benefit has been belonging to a social group. Karate has been very important to my development.

What colleges did you attend and what did you get your degrees in?

I attended the University of West Georgia (UWG) and received a Bachelors of History. I did not meet criteria for admission to UWG because my SAT scores were low. However, I auditioned for the music department singing classical music. The Dean of the program obtained a Presidential exception for my admission. I also graduated from Reinhardt University with a Master of Business Administration.

How did you choose your career?

I thought I was going to major in music but due to my auditory processing problem, I was unable to discern notes on tapes as well as some other challenges. I could sing but I could not do other things required for a music major. When I graduated with a history degree, I was unable to find any job opportunities. In the end, one of my Uncles gave me a job as a data processor in his company.

What advice would you give to young people with autism on employment?

Working any job is an opportunity and this will help you grow and develop as person and overcome more challenges.

What advice would you give to young adults on relationships?

Social skills do not come automatically to people with autism. However, you can develop social skills which is the start to developing relationships.

What has been your greatest struggle in the workplace?

I work for a very small company so there is no opportunity for advancement. In addition, when I started I missed the college environment because everyone who worked at the company was much older than me and I felt like I had nothing in common with others.

11. What inspired you to write What Autism Gave Me: A Devastating Diagnosis to a Triumphant Life?

In sharing my story as a speaker at a few conferences, I was asked to be the keynote speaker at Jacksonville State University’s annual autism program for teaching professionals. After I presented, I was urged to write a book to document my journey. I didn’t think much about it but my mother encouraged me and helped me think through the structure of the book.

What are three positive things autism has given you?

1. I learned I would have to work hard to reach my goals.
2. I learned to be persistent and not to give up.
3. I learned that attitude is the best predictor of success.

Please share a humorous story from your life.

With autism, I often take what people say literally.

When I started work, my boss told me “You can take whatever snacks you want.” I thought he meant “take home” whatever I wanted. I guess I thought he was trying to get rid of them so I took almost all the snacks home with me after work.

What are some of your future goals?

My book has provided me motivational speaking opportunities to many business groups throughout the country. I enjoy public speaking and have received positive scores and feedback. I would like to continue to speak especially to students who are struggling to encourage them “not to give up.”

I also want to continue to work on writing my fictional stories. It is hard for me but one day I would like to have one of my stories published.

Michael Goodroe book

Michael Haigwood Goodroe Bio

Diagnosed with autism, a low IQ, and severe learning problems, Michael Goodroe’s life opportunities were characterized as limited. Experts insisted that leading an independent life would be impossible and school was not an option. Against all odds, Michael went on to earn a BA in History from the University of West Georgia and a Master of Business Administration from Reinhardt University. He works full time as a data processor; has a third-degree black belt; sings at fund-raising events; and serves as a motivational speaker. Michael wrote What Autism Gave Me: A Devastating Diagnosis to a Triumphant Life to provide hope to others facing the challenges.

Michael’s Facebook Link

Amazon Link to What Autism Gave Me: A Devastating Diagnosis to a Triumphant Life

Ron Sandison

Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House and Thought, Choice, Action. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes. Ron’s third book Views from the Spectrum was released in May.

He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at sandison456@hotmail.com.

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