Wanting both to be popular but also wanting to be by himself. Wanting to be friendly but lacking the ability to make friends without being “weird” (his words). Robert Louis Milanich faced more than the typical childhood bullying challenges. The middle and high school years are a confidence knocking time, but add in a diagnosis of Aspergers and that time could easily diminish a child’s spirit. However, that’s not what makes his story unique. Robert’s hope and ability to “always find away” is what makes him extraordinary.
As a response to the horrific Newtown shooting and fueled by the media’s incorrect reporting of Aspergers, Richard, using Facebook, spoke out about his journey with Aspergers. One of the most poignant remarks he makes is this: “Just because other people have it doesn’t make them me. Doesn’t mean their Aspergers is the same as mine. I’m awkward in social situations, yes, but I’m getting better, and I am pretty sure I no longer just blend into the background.”
Robert is right – He doesn’t blend into the background. The 21-year-old senior at Clarion University of Pennsylvania is majoring in Musical Theatre. Robert is candid about his journey and not knowing what makes it different from other kids who struggled in childhood.
“Maybe it was the help I had. The few friends I had, the great support I got from my parents, or even the start of my love for theatre, but I got through every single moment no matter how difficult or seemingly hopeless. And now I can honestly say, I don’t think I would have turned out to be the man I am today without all the trials and tribulations I went through as a kid, and the path I was following without even knowing it.”
This intelligent, courageous, creative young man speaks a truth of hope that’s inspiring. He reminds me of the power of hope when he says “Even when you are struggling…it may not be fun, but there is a way to get through anything. Through all of my dark years I discovered there is a silver lining to everything, and you can and will get through with the right people, help, friends no matter how few they be, and a passion for life or something you love.”
Robert reminds us that no matter the trial or tribulation there is “always a way” and I agree with Robert whole heartedly.