Expect a Miracle: Understanding and Living with Autism chronicles a young man’s journey to happiness from the separate writings of him and his mother (me). Diagnosed as a toddler, David Petrovic fulfills his dreams of teaching middle school and speaking nationally—and he continues to reach new goals and greater heights. More than just a story, the book is filled with strategies and lessons learned, and it gives the reader the unique opportunity to experience life from the perspectives of the autistic person and family living it. Echoing the style of our book, my son and I will each contribute our separate thoughts in this blog, with David’s in italics to clarify that distinction.
The cover of this second edition book is particularly symbolic for us, and the eye is immediately drawn to that backwards “E” in the title. Was it a mistake? Hardly!
Like this “E,” David often drew attention to himself and stood out as being different. He was repeatedly out of synch with the majority, doing things his way and behaving or enjoying activities different from the norm. He saw the world from a contrasting perspective. Imagine what life is like living among letters that all face a different direction—not understanding their ways and rules! And he did want participation and relationships in that world!
David had different needs, and he often required information and social skills to be presented in varied ways before comprehension dawned—but was he wrong, just because he was different?? One might think that the backwards “E” is the outlier, until the time is taken to learn and understand why he or she does what he or she does. After getting to know the person and discovering his or her strengths, one might then rightfully appreciate him or her and even regard that backwards “E” as cool, unexpected, courageous, refreshing, and uniquely insightful.
There is symbolism in the illustration, as well. Every developmental milestone or aspect of life is made more cumbersome by the load of differences inherent in autism—an additional weight on one’s back. But with the proper tools, learnt skills, and accommodations also carried, barriers can be crossed! The backpack additionally symbolizes individualized education: learning is possible if concepts are taught in a way that makes sense and works for each person. Vocational training, job skill acquisition, and/or college may be attainable with the right accommodations, supports, and programs—all leading to increased independence.
People with autism might take different, longer routes to get to the other side of a challenge, but they can make it! Determination and daring are depicted on this cover, but transitioning, preparation, and use of strengths also go a long way towards attaining success.
If you don’t take a leap, you will never know if you could have accomplished getting to the desired place—the sky is the limit.
The backwards “E” represents my comfort and openness to be different—and own it! I acknowledge that there are people who will not vibe with me because of who I am...and that’s okay! If people don’t like my differences, they are entitled to their opinions, but I am going to keep being “me.” I am confident in showing the world my individuality, and I am not afraid to go against the grain of society. I even believe that there’s a reason why they call autism or any other diagnosis “a difference”: because one has the potential to MAKE a difference.
The image of an individual leaping across a canyon is the ultimate representation of taking a leap of faith. The canyon implies the risk and fear of falling way down and experiencing tremendous pain from it. But the young man on the cover illustrates the confidence and fearlessness I now possess. Unlike my younger years, it is no longer within me to give up trying. I know that even if I fall, I will find the drive to get back up. I am no longer afraid of failure.
Finally, note the rays on this cover: are they emanating determination and motivation from within, or are they coming from an external source of guidance and possibility? And why did we choose the title, “Expect a Miracle”? Those answers, and many others, will be found within the pages of our book...
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
David Petrovic B.A., Though virtually non-verbal until age three and the product of early special education, David graduated cum laude from Notre Dame College in 2015. He earned a B.A. in Middle Childhood education, with concentrations in Social Studies and Language Arts. He is currently a junior high teacher at a Catholic elementary school in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. David is pursuing his master’s degree in theology (expected completion August 2020) with aspirations to eventually teach in a high school setting, and he is further considering a vocation within the Catholic clergy. Having autism and Tourette’s, he has powered through struggles and bullying to come to a place of peace and fulfillment. David aspires to help others understand and accept autism and diversity, both socially and professionally. He has become a national speaker (including a TEDx presentation) and contributes articles to various magazines and blogs. Learn more at https://aspergermiracles.com/
Sandy Petrovic RN, BSN, Sandy (David’s mother) holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and has over twenty years of critical care/cardiac experience. She changed her specialty to diabetes education for an additional ten years and is now an instructional advisor at the same college academic support center that honed David’s skills. She has combined her passions of nursing and student coaching to tutor students who have learning differences. In addition, she speaks publicly with David at select events, contributes to various magazines and blogs, and is a co-chair of the National Milestones Autism Conference.