Every student at Gannon is required to take either “Theology of Moral Response” or “Philosophy of Ethics.” I ended up taking the theology class this semester with Dr. Kerr, who brought in a guest speaker named Miguel.
Miguel suffered a broken back in a motorcycle accident and began to realize the discrimination people with disabilities feel. He felt hopeless and like his life fell apart. He turned to drugs, and ended up spending fifteen years in prison.
Before he went to prison, Miguel started to develop a strong sense of faith and he used that to help him through his years of incarceration. Eventually, he ended up being a huge inspiration to his cell mates. His speech was one that has changed how I see life.
Miguel’s faith helped inspire him to get to the point to where he sees goodness in everyone, he wants to help people, and was able to see the good things in his life even after he felt as though he lost everything.
I felt very moved by this speech because it reminds me of my mission in life.
Like Miguel, I have a disability, and I once believed I was not able to really do anything because of it. I have Asperger Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. Basically I am “socially impaired” and have major issues with sensory processing (especially with my vestibular sense. It just does not work at random times).
Eventually, I started acting, and I learned how to blend in with all the non-autistic people. I basically learned the social skills that did not come naturally to me like a foreign language. Now, I am double majoring in Education and Theater.
But what does this have to do with spirituality?
In Miguel’s speech, he pointed out finding the beauty of seemingly terrible situations. I might be stuck with Autism, but I figured out many ways to deal with it and accomplish things people would not have initially considered possible. How many autistic teachers do you know?
One thing I rarely talk about is how my faith has allowed me to figure out where I am supposed to go in life. This speech allowed me to reflect on what I believe is God’s purpose for me.
I was given this “disability,” yet I managed to overcome many obstacles that would bring many people down, and I learned more about how I work as a person.
Unfortunately, autism numbers are rising. I recognize that what works for me may not work for everyone on the autism spectrum. However, what I learned could be something I can use to help someone else on the autism spectrum. Many people agree that it is a teacher’s job to make positive changes in children’s lives. In my Theology class, we talked about one biblical message, “what you receive as gift, give as gift.” I received a disability and ways to function with it. That is my gift to give to others.
I give the gift of hope. A disability is not an end of everything. This is something Miguel learned after his motorcycle accident, and this is something I continue to learn in my every day life.