Notre Dame College Student Author with Learning Difference to Conduct Book Signing on Campus

From a young age Notre Dame College student David Petrovic, 21, knew he was different from other children. And his parents knew it too.
Petrovic said his mother and father realized he had developmental differences by the time he was 2 years old; he wasn’t reaching important landmarks at the same rate as other boys his age. In fact, he did not utter more than a couple of words until the age of 3. He also demonstrated unusual behaviors.
His delayed progress led to a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, often used to identify toddlers whose skills, including communication and socialization, are underdeveloped.
With that finding and help from his parents and specialists, Petrovic began improving. By the time he had reached the first grade, his diagnosis was changed to high-functioning autism. When he reached middle school, doctors said he had Asperger’s Syndrome, which is considered to be on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum.
With his mother, Sandy, Petrovic chronicles what he calls his experiences of struggle and perseverance in a new self-published book, Expect a Miracle: A Mother/Son Asperger Journey of Determination and Triumph.
Petrovic will be available to sign copies of the book at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in Regina Chapel on the College campus.
A common theme in Petrovic’s life, as well as his book, is to persevere because he said Asperger’s Syndrome affected both his cognitive and social development.
Learning to talk as a toddler was the easy part. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Petrovic said he had to become aware of social nuances that not only come naturally to others but that many also take for granted on a daily basis.
For instance, he had to understand and practice how to have a two-way conversation with his peers. He often spoke in what he described as a “monologue,” where others had little chance to respond.  In addition, he had to learn not to stand too close to a person during a conversation.
“With Asperger’s, we only see black and white. We don’t see the colors, so I had to train myself. And thanks to many years of social skills therapy, I am now able to carry on meaningful conversations with just about anybody,” Petrovic said.
Petrovic’s documented learning difference also led to numerous struggles in his early academic career. He said he had difficulties comprehending course material and teacher instructions. But once instructors and tutors started explaining the curricula and class assignments to him in alternative ways that were more direct—more black and white, with fewer colors—he started to excel.
“Once he had the material explained to him in a different format, he understood it completely,” said Sandy Petrovic.
This book serves not only as memoir of a mother and her young boy growing up with Asperger’s, but also serves as an optimistic anecdote that offers insight on how help can be achieved through the support of family and medical personnel. According to Sandy Petrovic, perhaps more importantly, this book is a reminder that having a difference, such as Asperger’s, may certainly make someone unique, but it in no way relegates their humanity or their potential.
Petrovic credits his mother to being a big influence when it comes to publishing his book, saying that it was her perseverance that made the publication of this book possible, and even referred to their relationship as a “partnership,” in not only the role they took in getting this book published, but also in how his social and cognitive development unfolded over the years.
“From the start of our journey together as a mother-son team, and from the time she found out I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, she and my father did everything in their power to give me a life I wasn’t meant to live—but a life that I was worthy of living,” said Petrovic.
While he did not contribute to the book directly, Frank Petrovic, who works at the Cleveland Clinic, and Sandy Petrovic, who is a former critical-care nurse turned diabetes educator, both assisted with his development—while boosting his determination and celebrating his triumphs.
Petrovic is on track to graduate with honors at Notre Dame, where he studies middle childhood education and expects to graduate in December 2015. In addition to being a member of the College’s Academic Support Center for Students with Learning Differences, he is an active member of the campus community. He has been involved in choir, theatre, campus ministry and was even elected onto the 2014 homecoming court.
Petrovic is also a motivational speaker and has spread his message to hundreds of people, predominantly youth, since 2011. He said the book offers a renewed opportunity, and he hopes to continue public appearances.
Staying true to the sentiments expressed in his book, Petrovic said he continues to live a happy and fulfilling life. He said he looks forward to whatever his future may be, whether he teach social studies and linguistics or discern his vocation as a Roman Catholic priest.
 “It’s not always easy being me,” he said, “but, honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Petrovics’ book, Expect a Miracle, is available in both paperback and e-book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and buybooksontheweb.com. See their website, www.aspergermiracles.com, for more information and links to purchase.

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