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When Brianne Sando was just a young girl, her doctor told her not to bother with school. They claimed Brianne would likely live with nonverbal autism into her adult years. Brianne’s story is, sadly, all too familiar. Unfortunately, due to misconceptions about neurodiversity, people with autism are often put into boxes and told their lives will be limited. But Brianne decided that she wouldn’t suffer at the hands of those who underestimated her.

In her own words, she “did the impossible” through online language learning by conquering her nonverbal autism diagnosis. Speaking to Centre of Excellence about how far she has come since that initial damaging diagnosis, Brianne said, “I couldn’t verbally communicate when I was younger. But now, when I go to the Korean grocery store, I can ask them questions in Korean and make friends!”

Brianne recalled, “I was diagnosed with autism when I was five. My doctor told me that I would never be able to be a normal child. He said I wouldn’t ever take normal classes, be able to read on my own or be able to take tests or focus. He even told my parents that college or school would be a waste.”

Brianne Sando shares her story to raise awareness for nonverbal autism in the Centre of Excellence blog.

These words really affected how Brianne experienced the world as a child. “It was so hard to socialise or talk in school or anywhere. I loved learning and was smart but I would never participate and always get anxious from my surroundings, making it impossible and very frustrating for my parents.”

As Brianne’s brain reacts to sensories, living day to day became overwhelmingly hard and she had to go through a lot to gain her independence into adulthood. Brianne says Centre of Excellence courses helped her develop self-acceptance and useful skills along the way but one, in particular, will help her follow her dream of travelling to Korea.

“I might have had nonverbal autism until I was 7 but now I know multiple languages, including Korean, and love talking to people. I have been able to make some Korean friends and, since I know some of the language, I can follow along watching K-dramas! I know more about the language and culture and the history, too. My studies have made me feel more confident in my love for Korea.”

Brianne Sando, who was diagnosed with nonverbal autism as a child, wants to travel to South Korea one day.

Brianne is justifiably proud of all that she has accomplished with her focus and her “courage to go against the naysayers”.

The Pennsylvania resident found transformative online learning with Centre of Excellence and has successfully completed 13 diploma courses with distinctions across the board, including her Korean for Beginners, Italian for Beginners and Japanese for Beginners Diploma Courses.

Brianne absolutely loves watching Studio Ghibli movies and Pokémon, as well as listening to K-pop!

Brianne Sando, who studies online with Centre of Excellence, after growing up with a nonverbal autism diagnosis.

Moreover, Brianne was able to find self-acceptance of her autism through the Advanced Autism Awareness Diploma Course. She said, “My online studies helped me with time management, remembering, focusing, and multitasking — all things that are so simple for others but hard for me.”

After living with Celiac disease for two decades, the 28-year-old also studied the Gluten-Free Living Diploma Course, the Mindful Nutrition Diploma Course, and the Vegan and Vegetarian Nutrition Diploma Course to take back control of her body. The nutritionist and avid baker added, “I love to bake and have been vegan for 20 years. I try to make yummy food for people who want to better the world and themselves, feel good and nourish their hearts.”

But, with a healthy curiosity for the world around us, Brianne didn’t stop there. She was inspired to develop her spirituality by studying Buddhism, Ayurveda, Meditation and Taoism and was empowered to work on her wellness with the Yoga Diploma Course.

Brianne Sando, who studies online with Centre of Excellence, after growing up with a nonverbal autism diagnosis.

Following her passion for nature and learning about the mysteries of the galaxy, Brianne also took up the Astronomy Diploma Course, which she says made her more “mindful to look at the stars and realise how small but powerful we are” and gave her a newfound appreciation for how important it is to take care of our world and our bodies.

This even inspired Brianne to give back by donating over 30 inches of her hair after she learned about the struggles of those dealing with cancer. Brianne said, “Every course was a challenge and an accomplishment for me. I loved each one equally but in different ways. They all have a part of my heart and have changed my life.”

While the journey had challenges, Brianne says these weren’t “just because I have autism”, explaining, “Ever since my first course, I dived deep and learned a lot about myself and how capable I am and I also have a new sense of self-acceptance and love. I bettered myself and pursued my passions by exceeding my limits.”

Brianne Sando, who studies online with Centre of Excellence, after growing up with a nonverbal autism diagnosis.

She added, “The challenge made me grow as a person. I could never have this knowledge or new self-growth if it wasn’t for learning and doing what the doctor told me I would never be able to do.”

Brianne brought the same enthusiasm to her courses as she brings to life. “I love to laugh and tell jokes and to always make people happy. People say I light up their hearts and make things so exciting. I overreact but in a good way because I get excited easily! I love listening to people’s stories, walking and doing yoga.” The animal lover also tells Centre of Excellence that her family means a lot to her and she also has a dog named Daisy.

Brianne hopes her story will inspire others to pursue their passions and expand their minds. She shared a message with anyone who might be going through the same struggle that she has overcome: “Don’t let your autism define you. It’s a part of you but never let it hold you back. Think of it as a good thing – it makes you unique. Go after your heart.”

At the time of publishing, entering the code LEARNING in the checkout will reduce the price of our
Korean for Beginners Diploma Course to £29.

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