How will you use your education to make an impact on others?
We meet individuals who have a significant impact on us. They change the way we think. We sometimes see a person with disabilities and are frightened by their behaviors or appearance. Yet Fintan, my little brother, has changed the perspective I have about people with such challenges.Fintan was born in 2005, and appeared to be growing up like any other child: smiling at his parents, playing, and talking. Even so, shortly after learning his first words, Fintan lost the ability to speak. Knowing this was atypical for a two-year-old, my mom took him to numerous doctors to figure out what was wrong. He was diagnosed with autism in 2007. Although Fintan began portraying habits different from other children he was still the same kid to me, my little brother. He was a wonderful boy, with added challenges. My parents sought every avenue to improve Fintan’s condition. We experienced the impact of medical therapy not covered by insurance, uncertainty, and financial devastation. Worse, medicine used to treat Fintan affected his body adversely. Through it all, I continued to ask if there were methods of treatment not yet understood that could effectively assist someone like my brother, while minimizing the use of drugs? Autism is on the rise. Medical and behavioral therapeutic approaches must meet the needs of this growing population. There is an emerging interest in the use of animals for behavior therapy, and documentation seems to support its benefits. For example, equine-assisted therapy is an area that appears to be showing promise with autistic children, but research is needed. My academic career will be devoted to this pursuit. Aside from research, I will bring a voice to a growing population that needs to be heard. I am ready to be an effective, positive impact on their future.
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