Before Kimberly Hulsey was 3 years old, doctors informed her parents she had a “pervasive developmental disorder.”
Hulsey recalls that as a child she preferred to be alone at recess and felt overwhelmed in social situations. Years later, Hulsey was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder like autism that causes deficiencies in social and communication skills.
When she began school at Challenged Child and Friends at age 3, teachers and counselors helped her with speech and social development. She also enjoyed therapy with horses that helped her open up socially.
Hulsey remembers playing computer games to develop her cognitive skills while the school was in First Baptist Church. She recalls being streamlined with the typical prekindergarteners at the church who had class on the first floor just below the challenged children.
“I remember being at Challenged Child and actually having to learn how to hold a pencil,” Hulsey said. “I’ve come a long way.”
Hulsey graduated from Challenged Child and Friends and started kindergarten at Sardis Elementary School, feeling more prepared.
When her senior year at Chestatee High School approached, Hulsey faced her fear of change, a characteristic of Asperger’s Syndrome.
She enrolled at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, where she attended classes with thousands of other students. She also lived on campus for most of her college life.
Although it wasn’t an easy transition, Hulsey said she always knew she wanted to go to college.
“But it was kind of a hard adjustment,” she said. “In college, though, I chose to do things in a group because that means I’d have to do less work.”
Now 24, Hulsey graduated from NGCSU in August with a bachelor’s degree in English. She’s employed part time but seeks full-time work in assistive technology for disabled students.
Hulsey said at Challenged Child, teachers instilled in her the belief that she could do anything she set her mind to.
“I feel proud of myself,” she said.