It’s a space for the people who have provided support and encouragement throughout their journey. It’s also a forum for sharing how AU is helping them achieve their educational goals and realize their future potential. Their stories are worth shouting from the rooftops! Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.
Since I am a student with several disabilities—autism spectrum, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and sensory processing differences—post-secondary has been a long and challenging process. When I was in high school, I suspected I had an undiagnosed learning disability, but at that time very little was known about female autism. Despite having seen several medical and mental health professionals since early childhood, none of them picked up on it.
I was born in the United Kingdom and from the age of two was raised by an aunt and uncle in Vancouver. I was almost four when they legally adopted me. My aunt worked as a secretary at the University of British Columbia School of Social Work, and I spent a lot of time on campus as a child. After my aunt died in 2010, I found my early medical and psychological records in her files, and what I read made me wonder if I might be autistic.
I had dropped out of university at age 20 because it felt overwhelming and I had a hard time keeping up. I decided I wasn’t smart enough to succeed academically, so I took a job as a delivery driver and spent my spare time running and writing stories that never got published. At least I was able to support myself.
In my mid-20s, I got married, had a daughter, and continued to work on my writing. After my aunt died, I started to realize I had been living with complex trauma for most of my life, including being displaced at an early age and growing up without either of my parents. I joined a few adoptee support groups, including a writing collective.
In 2014, I finally became a published author of an essay in the anthology Adoption Therapy. Several of the contributing authors were clinical therapists, and for the first time in 20 years I considered the possibility of returning to university and becoming a psychologist. But, no, I reminded myself. My grades weren’t good enough. I struggled with learning. I was over 40 by then. But what if I could succeed?
By this time I had returned to running marathons, which I’d done in high school to cope with stress and escape an abusive home life, so I had a pretty good record of not giving up on challenges and finishing what I had started. I just didn’t know how far away the finish line for my degree would be. As they say in running, though, half the battle is having the courage to start.
So I did.
A few months before I enrolled at AU, I finally pursued a medical diagnosis of autism spectrum (formerly Asperger’s syndrome) and was able to register as a student with a disability. The same month that I began my studies, my husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer. It was discovered at an early stage but it’s a very aggressive cancer. I knew I needed to be there for him and considered taking time off school until we knew what the future looked like. However, he encouraged me not to give up—I did the same for him. During my first courses, he had two invasive surgeries and began immunotherapy treatment. I had most of my courses extended because it was difficult for me to focus on my studies. Having the extra support and accommodations at AU, especially during that time, made all of the difference.
I realized my previous academic struggles were due in large part to my lack of accurate diagnosis and supports, and partly due to years of criticisms from my aunt and uncle. My low self-esteem from their low opinions of me had held me back from succeeding, and with them no longer around, I actually earned decent grades.
“Since I am a student with several disabilities—autism spectrum, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and sensory processing differences—post-secondary has been a long and challenging process.”– Jodi Moore
I have to thank my husband—now a six-year cancer survivor—and my “spiritual mother” for encouraging and believing in me. I also want to thank the team in AU’s Accessibility Services for the academic and exam supports.
I’ve since had my writing published in three other anthologies and wrote a few pieces about my intersecting identities as an autistic woman and international adoptee, and how running helped me manage trauma and stress. Like many learners with their busy lives, it’s challenging to balance family, academic life, writing, and my love of running marathons. Thanks to AU’s flexibility, I didn’t have to cut back on my love of running to find the time to study. I have made great improvements in that area; I’ve run in five of the six World Marathon Majors since 2017 and broke a personal record at the recent New York City Marathon!
I plan to pursue a master’s degree in some aspect of therapy or counselling and would like to do clinical work and possibly research in the areas of developmental trauma and autism.
Thank you, Athabasca University, for encouraging me to share my story.