Another college essay draft. Could someone please edit it?

Prompt: The core mission of the University of San Francisco is to promote learning in the Jesuit Catholic tradition so that students acquire the knowledge, skills, values and sensitivities they need to succeed as persons, professionals and architects of a more humane and just world.Please tell us about yourself and how you will help the University to carry out its mission.

That Kid sits across from you in science. He’s always a little nervous looking. He raises his hand to answer the teacher’s question, and looks pass between the other students. You emit a quiet groan, inaudible to anyone else. That Kid stumbles across his words and answers in far too much detail. He looks proud of himself. He never once looked the teacher in the eye when answering; he studied the pattern in the wood veneer on his desk instead.

That Kid tries to talk to you. You’re polite—you don’t want to hurt his feelings. He talks about his favorite subjects, ones that you don’t understand or care about. He doesn’t take the hint when your answers become curt, when your smile fades. He keeps talking. You wonder if he can even see, much less react to your hints. Sometimes you get too frustrated with That Kid. His stumbling, stuttering descriptions of minute things, his pedantic way of speech, his inability to pick up on social cues. You blow up at That Kid, releasing all your pent-up frustration. When the storm has passed, you look at That Kid. He’s looking at his feet. He mutters, “Sorry,” and walks away. You feel sorry for That Kid.

Most people have met and had to deal with That Kid at some point in their lives. What most don’t realize is that That Kid can’t help annoying you; his brain isn’t wired to pick up on social cues. He was born without whatever connection in your brain gives you tact and social skills. That Kid gets picked on and yelled at every day for something he has no control over. That Kid has Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological condition in the Autism spectrum.

My sister is That Kid. She’s nervous and obsessive and frequently gets on my nerves. I’ve yelled at her more times than I can remember. I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t pick up on all of the hints I dropped. She would keep ranting about computers, Japanese linguistics, or exotic tea long after I had lost interest. One day, after losing my temper, I went to complain to my mother about how annoying my sister was. She sighed, put down the book she was reading, and explained to me that my sister had Asperger’s syndrome. She explained to me that my sister couldn’t understand the cues I used and saw her world in a literal, black-and-white way. I couldn’t understand her visual, literal interpretation of the world, just as she couldn’t understand my interpretation of the world. It wasn’t that she was choosing to ignore the nuances of social interaction; she couldn’t understand them.

Once I learned that my sister had Asperger’s Syndrome, I wanted to learn as much as I could about it and other Autism spectrum disorders. I wanted to share my knowledge with everyone, so they could understand that That Kid doesn’t understand them any more than they understand him and that the things he does that make him the butt of jokes and bullying aren’t his fault.

The chance to do that came when I checked my Facebook page one day. A friend had invited me to a party to recruit members for a fledgling youth leadership committee for PACE, the Pacific Autism Center for Education. Having the opportunity to work with other teens who saw Autism as more than that “special” kid helped me nurture my seedling desire to raise Autism awareness and stop the mistreatment and misunderstanding of people with Asperger’s Syndrome. I got the chance to work with some of the students at PACE and get to know them as people, rather than case studies or statistics. I regret my decision to leave the committee after a year of serving on it, but I knew that, with a more rigorous academic schedule and college applications looming in the near future, I wouldn’t have the time to fully devote myself to it and knew that the committee would be better off with someone who could give more time and energy than I could.

My desire to raise awareness about Asperger’s Syndrome and other Autism spectrum disorders is still strong. No matter what career I pursue, I will find a way to work with and for That Kid.

2 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Nice presentation.

    And bonus points for

    "I couldn’t understand her visual, literal interpretation of the world, just as she couldn’t understand my interpretation of the world."

    Yes, the lack of understanding and failure of "theory of mind" does indeed go both ways.

    Even many professionals fail to spot this.

  • 1 decade ago

    i dont knw

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