Bob came to this world with a series of challenges. He had Asperger’s and as a result, he struggled socially, academically, and spiritually.
This is even more devastating when you live in a BYU student ward filled with people who are actively improving their social, academic, and spiritual skills.
Bob felt out of place.
Yes, the ward rallied around him, but his disability prevented him from accepting their love.
Bob and I worked together to find some avenue in which he could succeed and that could help him realize his individual worth. We discovered a school that had a year-long program teaching students how to make dental appliances. This skill did not require team work and turned out to be a great fit for Bob’s academic abilities. He excelled in his studies and graduated near the top of his class.
As he got positive reinforcement from this academic successes, he started to integrate better into the ward.
Success breeds success.
When he graduated, he immediately found a job and his life seemed to be on a positive trajectory.
But, Bob found it hard to get to work on time.
He couldn’t integrate into the culture.
His work suffered and after many failed attempts to help him succeed, he was fired.
He came to my office that night was extremely discouraged.
He could not think rationally.
He was not ready to make any future plans.
He was completely devastated.
When he went home, he found a bottle of sleeping pills and swallowed all of them with his roommate watching. His roommate called 911 but Bob refused we get into the ambulance. He did not want to be saved. As soon as Bob was incapacitated, the first responders were able to get him to the ER.
My wife and I got to the hospital later, after they had pumped Bob’s stomach. When we arrived, he was laying unconscious on the hospital bed. The doctor explained he had high confidence Bob would recover.
I notified Bob’s parents of the events and they made arrangement to take the next flight from Texas to be with Bob when he awoke. Confident that all was well, my wife and I left the hospital.
About 15 minutes later, I got a call from the ER that Bob had suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of the pills he ingested. They were able to stabilize him but they were unsure if there would be any long-term negative effects.
Luckily, Bob did not suffer any brain damage.
When he awoke, his parents were there. We all counselled together and decided it would be best for Bob to return home. Once in the refuge of his home, his parents were able to work one-on-one with him. They arranged for a therapist who helped Bob regain some confidence.
Soon, Bob was able to find a new job in his field. But this time, he worked closely with his employer making sure they understood his limitations.
Now Bob is doing better. Through the support of his family, friends, and therapist, he was able to understand his individual worth. He stayed employed for the long-term and even worked hard to attend the temple.
The key to Bob’s success was when he realized that others loved and cared about him.