By Marc Larrivee, CIP Berkshire staff
The Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE) presents the Dandurand award to a resident of western Massachusetts with Asperger’s who exemplifies exceptional effort. This award is given in memory of Matthew Dandurand, a young man who had Asperger’s, and passed away at the age of 15.
Robin Lurie-Meyerkopf, Associate Director of AANE, presented the 2011 Dandurand award to Jacob Dresdale, a student at the College Internship Program, Berkshire Center, in Lee, Massachusetts.
Jacob Dresdale is a first year student at CIP in Lee, MA, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and a memory deficit. Because he has an understanding of his diagnoses, he is able to build on this, and to give his best to whatever he takes on.
For example, this past semester he took a concentrated college course 8 weeks long on Computer Networking that involved many lab assignments, cooperative efforts with other students, and a lot of reading. He did this while taking C++ computer programming and fulfilling other responsibilities. Because of his success in the Fall 2010 semester, he was asked to be a paid tutor by Berkshire Community College.
Jacob shows up when and where he needs to be, and has the work done that is due. In his academics, he will sacrifice time gaming or socializing to meet academic deadlines and complete homework assignments. He shows great attention to detail. If part of maturity is doing what needs to be done without needing to be prompted or told what to do, then Jacob accepts and expresses that in his life.
With others, he shows maturity and balance. While busy, he makes time for family, visiting on weekends and calling midweek. In his apartment, he does more than just his part of the chores and he pays his part of the bills. When apartment decision meetings happen, he offers suggestions on how they might work together and he is not at a loss to express his opinions.
His father relates, Jacob is sensitive, kind, and compassionate, and has an amazing ability to listen to his friends problems, and give reasonable, logical advice to help them through their rough times.” At CIP, he has been a support for his friends and is able to establish boundaries so that his success has not been compromised. These traits have made him popular, something that Jacob says that he is still getting used to.
Jacob has personal values that guide his choices. He makes decisions based on his consideration of the situation rather than on the urging of an individual or group. He can be counted on “to do the right thing”, because keeping his word matters to him. He understands rules and their necessity and will work with the leaders and the groups to advocate for actions that he believes in.
Jacob has shown strong leadership skills. He shares his ideas and holds his own views, even if others disagree with them. Jacob has an idea of what he wants to do with his life and is developing the skills and training to move him towards his goal of working in the computer industry. He sees what needs to be done, and takes the initiative to act upon it. Jacob perseveres in his commitments to accomplish what he has set about to do.
CIP is a residential living program and part of the measure of a student’s success is their mastery of independent living skills. Jacob cooks well, preparing dishes from scratch, some of which are quite complicated, and serves them to his apartment mates. He takes care of organizing and cleaning his room, and cleans common areas such as the bathroom and kitchen.
He knows how to do his laundry, scheduling time to wash his clothes, and then folding and putting them away. He has his own car, and feels comfortable navigating around town and over the interstate. Jacob his pays his own bills, and has developed a color coded spreadsheet so that he can visualize where his money is spent each month. He is respectful of the money given him at CIP, and has always managed his credit card and bank account responsibly.
Jacob has held several jobs, including repairing mac computers for a commercial business He also has a lot of hobbies and interests. He likes to groom, train, and care for dogs. He is creative and enjoys miniature painting, and playing the piano and guitar. Jacob is accomplished in computer gaming and participates in regional contests.
In his personal, academic, and social life, Jacob gives his best.