Thomas’ success proves Asperger’s is no barrier in academia
A father has told of both his shock and pride when his 22-year-old son Thomas, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 6, told him he was graduating
Peter Kennedy, a managing director at Accenture, wrote a viral post on LinkedIn detailing his “stunned happiness” at his son’s achievement when he graduated despite the struggles he faced during regular schooling.
His son Thomas Kennedy, 22, graduated from London South Bank University (LSBU) with a Bachelor’s degree in Bioscience in a ceremony at Royal Festival Hall on October 16.
In an interview following Thomas’ graduation, Peter said: “Thomas had a tough time in sixth form and I wasn’t sure that university was the right thing for him.
“I guess I always hoped he might go to university one day, but certainly there were plenty of times in school, and even in sixth form, it seemed a very remote possibility. When he did get a place in university I was absolutely delighted.
“He had his exams and then the summer came and I kind of assumed things hadn’t gone so well, when one night he called me up to tell me that he’d got his degree and I had to sit down for half an hour.
“I got quite overwhelmed really, all of a sudden lots of memories came back of good and bad things about his education and his life and helping him with things he found difficult and it was just a wonderful moment.”
Thomas said he persisted when things got tough at university because he didn’t want to let himself down.
“I wanted to attend university to get a higher qualification which would increase my chance of getting a good job and also because I wanted to go more in-depth into studying science,” he said.
“Initially I was worried about all the work I would have to do and how I would be able to balance that with my other activities; I thought I would have to work quite hard, and I did.
“I thought to myself I didn’t need support here (at university) and I’ve got to be more independent and got to make this on my own really.
“I was worried that I might get bad results in my assignments and exams but I didn’t want to let anyone, or myself, down and in the end I kind of saw it as a motivator to get me to work hard and do my best.”
Thomas’ family watched on proudly at his graduation, including his brother who flew from Glasgow to be there. Now he is looking to put his degree to use in the workforce.
“I hope to find work in perhaps a laboratory or a pharmacy, or even a school because that would be exciting; helping with education, helping the younger students to learn science, just like I did.”
His dad’s advice for families in similar situations was simple.
“The main thing I would say is, as we’ve found out, not to give up hope,” he said.
“We placed a lot of trust in Thomas and let him get on with it and it’s worked really well.”
See the full interview with Peter and Thomas below or read more about LSBU’s tailored learning needs support.
Two student teams reach Engineering Design Challenge National Final
9 July 2018
LSBU academic chosen as one of the top figures in NHS history
3 July 2018
Academic wins award for pioneering research on kidney care
29 June 2018
Ex-smokers might be better off with high rather than low nicotine e-cigs
18 June 2018
LSBU students provide solutions for the local business community
14 June 2018
Ground-breaking report shows gangs are more money than territory-orientated
5 June 2018
Another solid rise for LSBU in league tables
1 June 2018
LSBU wins Partnership of the Year with St Mungo’s at the Student Nursing Times Award 2018
21 May 2018
How black nurses were vital to our health service even before Windrush, a talk by Stephen Bourne
17 May 2018
24 July 2018Undergraduate – How to Apply Evening
24 July 2018CIPD courses at LSBU information evening
1 August 2018Undergraduate – How to Apply Evening
9 August 2018Undergraduate – How to Apply Evening
27 September 2018Dr Rami Ranger CBE Annual Enterprise Lecture
1 October 2018Graduation Ceremony - School of The Built Environment and Architecture; School of Engineering
6 October 2018University Open Day
15 October 2018Graduation Ceremony - School of Arts and Creative Industries; School of Applied Sciences; School of Law and Social Sciences
19 October 2018A season of Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
20 October 2018A season of Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream