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“You are not your disability. You are a divine son or daughter of God and he’s allowed you to have the disability because he needed you to learn and grow from it.”

Hannah Herring, a junior studying English, has made it one of her goals to speak as an advocate for autism. When asked about her own diagnosis, Herring says there are both advantages and challenges that stem from being on the autism spectrum.

“I like the perspective that autism gives me,” Herring said, “I love how it causes me to slow down and really think about things. But autism limits what I’m able to do. I get really sick from being in crowds. I can’t have a group discussion in a classroom, so all my professors assign my group to be out in the hallways so that I can hear and think. Otherwise, I will have sensory overload and have to leave until I feel better.”

Herring, who received her associate degree from Collin College in her hometown of McKinney, Texas, is also a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She enjoys reading and writing, which she’s been drawn to for as long as she can remember, and wants to work for a publishing company one day.

“I’m quite good at English and I feel like I can use words and write about how I feel, which is something that people on the spectrum struggle with a lot,” Herring said.

Herring wants other students with autism to understand their self-worth and know that they are more than their disability.

“You are not your disability,” Herring said. “You are a divine son or daughter of God, and he’s allowed you to have the disability because he needed you to learn and grow from it.”


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