An Autistic Girl’s Journey by Asha Sreedhar

In conversation with Asha about her autistic journey.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Asha Sreedhar and my age is 34. I work as a Quality Associate at SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd. through the Autism at Work Program.

What are your hobbies and interests?

My hobbies are:
• Reading novels and articles
• Watching Netflix Movies
• Listening to music
• Traveling
• Playing online computer games like Scrabble, Pictionary, Bingo, etc.

My interests are:
• Traveling and Tourism
• Photography
• Eating different cuisines (Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, etc.)
• Liberal Arts (as also known as social sciences)
• Watching Movies
• Reading
• Writing
• Wildlife and Animals
• Learning new foreign languages

What are your future plans/dreams/goals?

My future plans are to continue working for SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd. and become a famous autism icon like Dr. Temple Grandin in spreading about autism awareness in schools, colleges, universities, organizations, and corporate offices/workplaces.

How has your journey been so far?

My journey has been good so far but there have been also been some challenges and obstacles as well.

What are the challenges you have faced in your journey?

I was born in Africa and when I started pre-school, a teacher noticed that something was wrong with me because I was out catching butterflies and playing with farm animals instead of being in class with other students. She told my parents that something is wrong with me but couldn’t find out what was the problem so my parents took me to a psychiatrist in South Africa who diagnosed me as having lack of motor skills and maybe dyslexia. I went for some therapy sessions with a therapist at an institute in Malawi for speech, games, etc. and started my schooling in a British Private School. The school staff and students were accepting despite my disability and I participated in a lot of extracurricular activities like swimming, basketball, cross-country, track, athletics, Young Farmer’s Club, country dancing, art, and drama/theater arts. I also took part in many sports competitions and won many awards. But as the academics started becoming harder for me, my family and I took a decision to move to United States (especially for me). I moved to United States at age 9 and got enrolled in an American Public School with normal students. The school staff provided me some tests and assessments and diagnosed me as having autism spectrum disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. The school helped me out with providing special education services and speech therapy sessions with a therapist which continued for me until 6th grade. After that, I studied on my own with the help of teachers and tutors. I went through bullying, teasing, taunting, and exclusion with the students as I was different and they didn’t understand my disability. I participated in extracurricular activities like softball, basketball, student council, hip-hop dance, ice skating, theater arts/drama, story circle, cross country, Spanish Club, and HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America). I learned basic American Sign Language. I also learned driving during my high school years and obtained a driver’s license. I graduated from high school and enrolled in a local 2-year community college since I wasn’t ready to attend a 4-year university due to it being a fast-paced environment. I studied on my own with the help of professors and tutors but also had a hard time mixing with the college students as I was different from them. I got inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society due to my good grades and participated in a lot of activities like Minis and Friends (raising money for miniature horses), Habitat for Humanities (building houses for low-income families), Helping Hands (feeding the homeless individuals in downtown area), and visiting a local mental hospital where we fed and played with the patients. I also volunteered at another hospital for different departments. I graduated from college with highest Phi Theta Kappa Honors and struggled looking for employment related to my major due to the recession and having lack of experience due to being a new grad from college. I got offered some jobs and started working but had a hard time sustaining employment due to extensive multi-tasking and customer service interaction. But one of my managers observed me on the job and told me to pursue a career in the IT Sector and also by coincidence I met Dr. Temple Grandin, a famous autism advocate who told me to do the same thing.

What has helped you in your journey?

I moved to Bangalore, India with my parents and enrolled in a software testing institute where it was a one-on-one session for theory and internship. I obtained 2 certificates from the institute. With my aunt’s tremendous help, I found an organization called EnAble India and enrolled in the Autism at Work Training Program. I was the only girl with 10 boys and it was fun. I completed the training in July 2015 and got selected for SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd. as a Quality Associate (where I am still working today).

What do you think would help other autistics in their journey?

First, focus on school as education is the key to future. I think there must be a separate school catered only for special needs students from preschool till college as they cannot cope with the normal individuals in a regular school setting as it is a fast paced environment. They must receive speech therapy and special education services until they are confident to be independent (depending on the individual). In high school years, they must see what subjects they like and do some volunteer work activities in those fields to get an idea of the job/career. For example, if the person with special needs wants to be a veterinarian, they must go and observe the job in the clinic and see whether it is the right career for them. They must note down their strengths and weaknesses so that it will be easy to talk with a counselor before pursuing that major in college. After college, they must find an organization like EnAble India and go there for training and accept whatever employment is offered to get their foot into the door for experience.

What message would you like to give autistic people and their family and friends?

They must think positive and show normal individuals that they can also study well and get employment in good companies like them. There will be challenges and obstacles in their journeys but they have to learn how to overcome them. Don’t let anyone discourage or put you down. They are special like everyone else and display remarkable talents. Every individual with special needs is different and unique. Family members and friends must provide help, assistance, support, and encouragement for them.

Anything else you would like to add?

We must not make fun or tease persons with special needs as they are sensitive and also have feelings. We must take the initiative to understand their journey and provide help, support, and encouragement as they are smart and talented.

~ Asha Sreedhar


  1. Thanks very much for posting this story on the Care for Autism Community Preeti. I really appreciate it and it has come out nicely.


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