Stories of SUNY Ulster — Douglas

By Alex Bennett & Ariana Lawlor

portrait of douglas napoli

“I have an older brother and younger sister who were both diagnosed before I was. When I was eight years old, I was in first grade, and my parents saw that I was copying my siblings at home, and then my teacher noticed that I was doing it with some of the other students. She recommended I be sent to my pediatrician with my parents, and I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I didn’t know about it until I went to Kingston Middle School. That’s where I first heard what it was, and I decided to tell everyone I met about it. I was bullied horrendously for that. It was rather traumatic, I’m not going to lie. I was actually hit a few times. But then I started meeting with other students who were also bullied and who were also mentally ill, and I helped them, apparently. I’d meet people with depression, and they would stop me in the halls and say, ‘Douglas, thank you for letting me talk to you. You kept me from harming myself.’ And I was like, ‘Woah.’ I didn’t really know what to do with that at first. But I knew that there was a reason why I could do this. And me going to college wasn’t a possibility at first because, when you’re autistic, all that society is telling you is that you can’t do it, you can’t go to college, you can’t have a relationship, you can’t have friends, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. It is very discouraging, but my counselors in high school said that I should go for it, and I did. I have a 3.5 GPA currently, and I’m doing very well at SUNY Ulster. When I’m not in my classes, I’m talking to my friends here. They help me a lot. Besides the Asperger’s, I also have a form of high-functioning autism, and I’ve also been diagnosed with OCD, and that fluctuates in how bad it is. Like, over this weekend, it was pretty. And I especially feel it in the morning. I get a lot of anxiety when I leave my apartment to come to school. But my friends help me deal with that. When I first started coming here, my professors and my advisor were also made aware of what I have, and they’ve helped me a lot in figuring out what I want to do; and I also have my accommodations. The TRiO program has been very helpful with that. When I came to take my placement test here, I asked if there was someone I could talk to, and they gave me a card and told me to call Todd Zeff. I called him up, and I met with him to set up my accommodations. I talk to him every week, to catch up, and he is helping me right now with preparing for graduation. I’ve been here for six semesters already, and I’ll be here for a little bit longer.”

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3 Comments on Stories of SUNY Ulster — Douglas

  1. Ms. Timbrouck // February 25, 2017 at 3:09 PM //

    Love this guy!!!! So nice to see what he has been up t o. I was one of his math teachers in high shool, and I thoroughly enjoyed him. He made me smile and laugh often.

  2. Deb Kiernan/ACES Coordinator // March 2, 2017 at 9:35 AM //

    Douglas; You are an inspiration to all of us!! You have touch so many lives for such a young man. Continue pursuing you dreams; they will come true.

  3. Brian Liston // March 2, 2017 at 9:26 PM //

    As a fellow SUNY Ulster Grad and someone with Autism, I can relate to your story about Douglas, it just goes to show what we can do when people see us for whom we are rather than just our diagnosis. Bravo to you, Douglas!!! Keep up the fantastic work and don’t give up on what you wish to accomplish!!!

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