Friday, February 24, 2012

Kendrick Brinson

Autism Light #154 is Kendrick Brinson. 

Photo of Kendrick Brinson and prom date
Kendrick with his lovely prom date (2011)
Kendrick Brinson is an 18 year old from Soledad, California located in Monterey, County. Kendrick has autism and demonstrated tremendous success as a student athlete in his high school career. Kendrick Brinson is an Autism Light because of the inspiration his accomplishments in high school provides to those associated with autism. His character continues to be forged in a notable way as a college student.

While Kendrick was nonverbal until the age of 7, he received intensive speech therapy that helped him.  The record of his academic achievements defy the expectations of many who knew him back when he was first diagnosed with autism at age 3. In 2011 Kendrick Brinson graduated from Soledad High School with a 3.67 GPA. In addition to participation in standard social events such as Prom, he was a critical part of his Varsity Basketball team. 

Basketball: Required by his parents to step out of his comfort zone and to take up the challenge of at least one club or sport during school, Kendrick selected basketball early on because of his interests and gifts in the sport. It's something that he is grateful he experienced, and he encourages other students with autism to "try something you've never done" while you are in school.  His record in basketball prior to his senior year is an example of discipline, growth, and achievements.
  • In 5th grade he received the Male Student of the Year for his entire school district.
  • In 7th grade he didn't make the basketball team, but he didn't give up on his goals.
  • In 8th grade, he was on the basketball team and won the Most Improved Player.
  • In 9th grade, he played center on the Freshman Basketball team and received the Coaches Award.
  • In 10th grade, he moved to Monterey County, California and made the Varsity Basketball Team in his new school. He was one of only two Sophomores to make the Varsity team.
  • In 11th grade, he was the starting center for the Varsity Basketball Team at Soledad High School and received the Defensive Player of the Year Award.  He was named in the Alverez Eagle Classic as the All Defensive Player. 

Senior Basketball Star: In his Senior Varsity Year in 2011, Kendrick Brinson averaged 18 points per game on offense and was was nicknamed the "BEAST" because of his tenacious defensive play. Fans use to chant "UNLEASH THE BEAST" when a tough defensive stop was needed. Kendrick received the Most Valuable Player Award that year and he was ranked #6 in the Mission Trails League. He was selected to play in the Monterey County All Star Basketball Tournament. 

Basketball's Lessons: Autism Light asked Kendrick Brinson how basketball prepared him for life and this is what he said,
I think the most important thing I learned from playing basketball, was to always try to look outside of the box in certain situations. So often, people like me, with the autism diagnosis have such difficulty looking at situations from a different/more proactive perspective. Basketball taught me that even if you feel like your loosing the battle, you've actually won the fight to overcome symptoms of your negative self. Whether you win or lose, is irrelevant...You must give everything in life--100% (Kendrick Brinson).
Shared Dreams and Feelings: Kendrick Brinson offers the following perspective on the feelings and dreams of people with autism and in doing so demonstrates that what people with autism have in common with others is greater than any differences.
I don't mind having Autism, but I do mind being singled out and defined by it. Autism doesn't define me, because I want the same things every person at my age wants, to live my life, to be understood for who I am, to find love, have a rewarding career, and continue to do the best I can. Every person on this earth has something great to contribute. I'm no exception. People with autism are just like you. We want to be included, we want to know you get why we react to certain things, either good or bad, we want you to know we aren't stupid...We think differently but most of the times arrive at the same answer. Take the time to learn and educate yourselves. Trust me, it would make us ALL happier! (Kendrick Brinson).
Parents: Much of Kendrick Brinson's success is because of his parents involvement in his life. His mother Andria Brinson is a full-time autism advocate. You can read about her work at this news story by the Soledad Bee. Kendrick Brinson said, "I personally think that what made me so very successful in school was my mother and fathers ability to advocate for me, their continual support, and my innate drive to overcome my Autism obstacle."

College: Today Kendrick Brinson attends San Jose State University, where he is majoring in Accounting with an interest in Global Finance. He also has had the opportunity after high school to experience the thrill of working (and paying taxes).

Special thanks to Kendrick Brinson for being a light that other students with autism can follow. Kendrick has shown that significant achievements in academics, athletics, and social activities can be obtained by people with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post is used with permission of Andria Brinson.

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