Matthew Kenslow juggles more than balls and clubs at his motivational speaking engagements. He juggles the challenges — and stigma — that accompany his Asperger’s Syndrome.
"I describe Asperger's syndrome as having, or being like an enhancer plugged into the brain. It just enhances our perception and life and a lot of things. It's easy for us to be shy, and concentration is hard," Kenslow explains. "There are also positives like a good memory."
Matthew was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when he was just six. Since then, he has become a pianist, juggler, motivational speaker, college graduate and published author.
In his thought-provoking book, Juggling the Issues: Living With Asperger's Syndrome, Kenslow takes readers inside what it’s like for someone living with the disability.
“My main message that I tell hundreds of people is that I have not given up on my goals,” he wrote in the book’s preface. “I persevere on my aspirations. If I can do that, certainly everybody else can too.”
Kenslow sheds light on common traits found in those with Asperger’s, such as how their minds work, their lack of social and conversational skills, and poor eye contact with others, and how those challenges have impacted his everyday life. Simple tasks take longer for Kenslow — like reading or organizing his thoughts — while remembering things like the Periodic Table or the books of the Bible come more easily.
"I was raised as a Christian, and my grandfather and mother raised me. I'm very thankful for them," said Kenslow. "Even when I was three, my grandfather would open up the Bible and do Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus. I even have a YouTube video about that home video. And later, I had it memorized, and I'm very thankful because I know where things are in the Bible. I get to navigate through his word more easily."
Matthew says his faith has been a big part of his journey.
"I feel that without faith, I don't know where I would be. The word is the source of my comfort. It tells me that I have a purpose," said Matthew. "I thank God that even though sometimes I may not always understand, he has the victory and the devil doesn't."
"I believe my purpose in life is building character so I can communicate with the rest of the world about autism and spread the gospel."
Juggling the Issues: Living With Asperger's Syndrome is an important read for anyone whose life has been touched by Asperger’s Syndrome. Kenslow’s insights aim to lend understanding, inspire, and encourage readers to put aside differences and embrace the gifts others have to share with the world.