Thomas, a college navigator student, smiles

Thomas has autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. Early on, Thomas learned there were both positive and challenging things about his disabilities. He has always been great at remembering dates, facts, and people. Indeed, one of his skills is what he calls his “calendar trick,” where someone can give him a date from any year, and he can instantly recall what day of the week that date fell on. His disabilities provided some challenges, too. Staying organized, paying attention, and making friends had Thomas working extra hard to learn how to understand more about his disabilities.

So often someone’s disability can be under the scope of all the things a person cannot do, but Thomas’s parents reframed that lens for him when he was young with guidance and support to try new things like playing with other children. In fact, his dad used to call his disability his “ability” and encouraged Thomas to focus on the areas where he could excel.

Thomas is now a student at MassBay Community College and working with his College Navigator, Kyle. Thankfully, his school introduced him to the College Navigator program because his freshman year was tough for Thomas to manage on his own. He shares he didn’t do well because either his homework was late, or he completed the wrong assignment. Thomas says working with Kyle helps as “I had trouble with the syllabus because it outlined the whole semester and there was so much information that I couldn’t find what I needed. Kyle helped me break it down by weekly work and due dates.” Thomas is busy; he is a student working toward his Early Childhood teaching certificate to become an educator and works two jobs. He and Kyle meet twice a week online to work on time management strategies to balance his full schedule.

Thomas credits feeling successful in both his work and schoolwork, thanks to the tools and organizational skills he has learned from Easterseals Massachusetts’ College Navigator Program.

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