Autism doesn’t define a person

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by Albert Jersey

When I was in preschool, I never thought Kathleen Brown would help me to achieve the goals that I believed were impossible. But she knew how to connect with me, despite my autism. With that connection, my potential to achieve the impossible succeeded.

Brown is a Sterling resident who worked at Houghton Elementary School as a Special Education Assistant. Up until her retirement in 2016 Kathy worked with children on the Autism Spectrum as an ABA Therapist in the Wachusett Regional School District.

“Albert motivated me to achieve goals,” she says. “I saw that he was special. The more he learned, the more I became motivated. Each time I saw him overcome some aspect of his struggle, my willpower increased to impact the world around him. He surprised so many people from what he demonstrated, and for what he’s capable of achieving.”

I had difficulty recognizing social cues, and trouble thinking “outside of the box”. I was obsessed with black and white thinking, and lacked an understanding of body language skills. Yet as the years progressed, I got better and better. I’ve always looked for improvement. Each struggle I’ve overcome, I felt at times like giving up. But subconsciously I never gave up. As my father says, “Jerseys never quit.”

“I know Albert and I have had bumps on the road,” says Brown. “The love and passion that came from working with Albert continues to motivate me so that I may find ways to encourage and guide others on the autism spectrum into the community.”

Today, I realize now how far I’ve come. I’m so grateful for all the friends and family that have guided me through roads of prosperity, helped me evolve into a man that is on his way to accomplish more than I could have ever imagined. I can express my emotions, make friends more readily, relate to people more easily. I believe the power of light and love empowers me to connect and make people happy.

Kathy Brown worked with me from 1997 to 2004 when she was assigned to another student in the Wachusett Regional School District. We reconnected again in 2017, and she was amazed and proud of the progress I had made. She was surprised I had a full time job and had worked as a waiter at Barber’s Crossing in Sterling.

“What really amazes me is how Albert’s state of mind has changed,” says Brown. “He doesn’t think in black and white any more, but is able to see many more nuances. He really understands poetry and quotes that are figurative and meant to display subtle meaning. He’s a great punster.”

Now a graduate of Worcester State University with a bachelor’s degree in business, I’ve never felt so good in my life. I embrace the word “Namaste,” which means “My soul honors your soul, we are the same, we are one.”

Each difference makes each person who they are. Our differences make us all the same. Love is a weapon of light and has the power to eradicate all forms of darkness. That is the key—when we offer love, even to our enemies, we destroy their hatred and darkness.

Autism is a part of me, not who I am.

Albert Jersey is a Sterling resident. He works at Charles River Laboratories located in Worcester. Albert is interested in sports, history, reading, philosophy, and music.

Photo: (Left to right) Kathleen Brown and Albert Jersey.

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