Friday, November 27, 2009


I'm so thankful that my son, a mathematician/scientist who, a generation ago would have been deprived of a scientific career the way the fictional Raymond Babbit was in The Rain Man, gets to be a member of the international team of scientists researching at the recently-operational Large Hadron Collider. Yay!

David is completing applications to CALTECH, UC San Diego, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rutgers, University of Arizona, and UC Davis over the coming month and a half.

Thank You, God!

Monday, September 28, 2009

GRE Prep

So, UC Davis is back in school, David has started senior year, and all graduate application activity is on hold while Dave practices for the GRE whenever he's not doing homework. Amazingly, ETS, the private corporation that gives the GRE won't be providing David his usual accomodations. They accomodate people with LH and ADHD, but not autistic people.

I guess it's just too new for them to comprehend. ETS, (and a lot of other people too), just can't "see" savant autistic people.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Graduate School Applications

Look how fast we've changed our minds! So much for the rule against multi-tasking: I (who manage Dave's daily planner and schedule) will just have to make sure I keep good enough records to avoid his missing deadlines. The transcripts are the troublemakers. It can take former colleges so long to process the transcript request that the student misses the deadline for submitting them. And Dave can't upload the transcripts until he officially starts the online apps, so, here we go...keeping track of more than one app at a time.

Thanks for reading...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

David's Website

By the way, here is Dave's website:

Posted by Mary Nisson at 2:00 PM 0 comments


Friday, September 11, 2009

Of course, Mary wasn't the first person to come along and choose to be someone's Personal Assistant. She has great heroes to emulate, role models to imitate. First, there is her friend, Millie. Millie cares for her son, Sidney. Sidney studies computer science and transports himself by wheelchair. Millie runs double the number of errands for her son that Mary does.

Another role model is the famous Alicia Larde Nash, wife, then ex-wife, then wife again of schizophrenic Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Nash.

Then there's one of her favorite Personal Assistant heroes- Anna Erdos, mother of prolific mathematician, Paul Erdos. She did everything for Paul, so that he didn't have to become distracted from his important, awe-inspiring production of mathematics by mundane responsibilities. Although the term "autism" didn't yet exist in Dr. Erdos' day, there are stories that indicate he may have been on the spectrum. There's a story that shows how closely Anna cared for her son. When he was twenty-three years old, Paul visited friends in England who served tea, toast and butter. Apparently, he looked at his friends buttering their toast and announced "I think I can do that". He had never buttered his own toast, because his mom had always prepared all of his food. This story is a reminder of why it is that, after David completes his college degrees, he will then take a year or so off from science to just learn basic daily living skills.

Very important!!

David can fix himself a simple meal. Some people judge Anna harshly for taking care of so many details for so long, but this is wrong. It was a different world then. She wanted to protect her son from any sort of stress.

Of course, everyone also knows the story of another role model, Fran Peek, father of Kim Peek (upon whom the film Rain Man is based). Fran's commitment to Kim's happiness and pursuit of his Self Determination Dream provides a fine example to follow. There are many, many more wonderful Personal Assitants out there devoting their lives to someone who needs extra help. If you are one of us, and you happen upon this blog, we would love to hear your story.
Posted by Mary Nisson at 6:39 PM 0 comments


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Welcome to the groundbreaking "College Autism Dream" blog, which describes the story of David Nisson's college journey. This blog is posted by his personal assistant and family member, Mary Nisson. David is a math/science brainiac and has a BIG dream about earning his Ph.D. in high energy physics, and then working in collider physics. He is studying toward his bachelors' degree at the University of California at Davis. So far, he's been on the Dean's Honors List every term.

However, Dave has autism. So, if his big dream is going to come true, he needs a lot of help. That's what Mary does. She helps Dave by escorting him to class, to honor society events and physics club meetings, to planning sessions with counselors. She makes sure he safely crosses big streets like Russell Boulevard and Anderson Road. She also helps him to communicate with professors, classmates, advisors, administrators and doctors who are meeting for the first time an autistic adult with a dream as big as David's.

Mary helps David to meet deadlines for financial aid, registration, and library book due dates. She shops, cooks, and drives to the Alta California Regional Center, the Social Security Office, and Wal-Mart. In other words, by having a family member "sweat the small stuff", the autistic college student (David) can focus on the studying itself (in this case, physics).