Dalton Rogers is on his first step in a multilevel plan of eventually becoming a cybernetic engineer. He is currently successfully completing classes at Marion Technical College (MTC) and plans to continue on until he reaches his ultimate goal. The goal in itself is lofty, but Dalton feels very obtainable. Achieving it with a developmental disability? No problem.
It was evident to Dalton Roger’s parents early in his life that he was different. His mom, Sue, noticed the signs first, and father, Dick, admits he was initially “in denial.” But at age four it was verified. Dalton was diagnosed with Autism. Several years later that diagnosis was narrowed further to confirm it was Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), one of several different subtypes of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Asperger’s is a neurological condition that affects the way information is processed in the brain. It’s often referred to as a “hidden disability” because those with the syndrome appear “normal” except for some quirky social interactions and sometimes communication barriers.
Dalton and his parents, Dick and Sue, recall lots of speech therapy to help with his communication.
“I couldn’t make full sentences, even at seven years old. I had tutors to help with that. That made the early years of school a little tough, but in middle school, I found a math teacher that helped me find my strength and love… math,” Dalton recalls.
Mr. Rogers agreed that Dalton’s math skills shocked him on a regular basis. “His math skills are amazing. He was very mechanical too,” he said. “I remember him completely dismantling a gaming machine and then putting it back together with no problem,” he added.
Mr. Rogers said raising Dalton has been rewarding. “He was constantly winning awards and finding new ways to make me proud.”
Dalton’s mom recalls some of the quirky components of his disability with a chuckle. “I remember he called bologna sandwiches ‘circle sandwiches’ and corn flakes were ‘cock-of-the-do’ because of the rooster on the box,” she said. “Everything was very literal. He often did not get people’s jokes because he was processing it very matter of factually.”
Dalton is grown now and has found his place in the world. With a good support system at home and a clear vision for his future, Dalton is on his way.
“I realized that my ability to earn a good income was dependent on a good education. I never want to be in a financial bind and know I have skills to offer employers,” Dalton said.
He is currently attending classes at Marion Technical College and is focusing on a career that uses those strengths that he found back in middle school – math and hands-on learning. His ultimate career goal is to be a cybernetics engineer, but he is starting with an associate degree in robotics.
His experience so far has been very positive. He is attending full-time and is focused on his grades. He’s meeting new people and said that everyone at MTC is friendly and helpful.
Dalton may have Asperger’s but it is not getting in the way of his learning. He isn’t in need of any special supports at the college and only receives case management services from the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
“Raising Dalton has always been an adventure. We love him and are very proud of all he has accomplished so far,” Mrs. Rogers said.
He is a shining example of a person who is focused on his ability and those who know him, know that he will reach his goals.