Michael Goodroe

Michael Goodroe offers proof positive that some of the most difficult challenges in life can be overcome with persistence and a "never quit" attitude. Goodroe, diagnosed with autism as a pre-school child, was told school would never be an option for him, however today he holds a BA in History and a Masters in Business Administration and works as a data processor. Goodroe spoke to the Rome Exchange Club Friday. / Doug Walker

The autistic 31-year old from Atlanta, whose mother Joan Haigwood Goodroe graduated from Coosa High School, told members of the Exchange Club that his parents refused to believe that he had no future.

 But he proved beyond any shadow of a doubt an impossible dream is not impossible at all.

 The young man said the battle with autism "birthed a fighting spirit into me" and he ultimately went on to earn his BA in history from the University of West Georgia and an MBA from Reinhardt University. He works full-time today as a data entry processor.

Goodroe authored “What Autism Gave Me” in an effort to provide hope to others who face serious challenges, not limited to autism. The book is available from a variety of online resources.

When he was first diagnosed, Goodroe compared his brain to a honeybee hive without a queen.

"Buzzing around without any sense of direction or purpose," Goodroe said. "The goal was to get my brain working like a kaleidoscope, to know that all the pieces were working together — that it was all synchronized."

The family chose to work on three areas to get him going in the right direction. First was his motor functions.

"I couldn't walk straight. I couldn't swing. I had absolutely no sense of balance," Goodroe said.

He enrolled in karate classes which helped overcome that obstacle. This summer, 25 years after he started, Goodroe received his third degree black belt in karate.

The second focus was to improve his auditory skills and the third were his communication skills. 

"My life is pretty much the tortoise and the hare. I was always moving slower than everybody else, but like the tortoise I never stopped and because of that my strengths started to emerge," Goodroe said. "I gained a sense of persistence. I learned that if you never give up you can achieve anything. I was taught to be goal-directed, you had to know what you want before you could get it."

Along the way, Goodroe and his family learned that attitude was a better measure of success than an IQ score. He was trained in classical music and that was his ticket to admission to college.

"Against everything that people told me, I made it in life," he said. 

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