Despite the challenges he faced, King David Linksfield matriculant Dovi Lipshitz beat the odds to obtain five distinctions. Picture: Micha Serraf
Despite the challenges he faced, King David Linksfield matriculant Dovi Lipshitz beat the odds to obtain five distinctions. Picture: Micha Serraf

Matriculant's triumph over Asperger syndrome

By Ilanit Chernick Time of article published Dec 30, 2016

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Johannesburg - Being born with Asperger syndrome has made life difficult for King David Linksfield matriculant Dovi Lipshitz.

Because the 18-year-old’s condition is characterised by awkwardness, making it hard for him to connect socially, he has faced and overcome numerous challenges throughout his schooling career.

Yet, despite the challenges, being born with Asperger syndrome is not what has defined him.

“It has certainly shaped who I am,” he said. “It has taught me to appreciate tolerance and kindness in others, without which I would not be where I am today.”

Asperger syndrome is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. They see, hear and feel the world differently from others and while it’s on the autism spectrum, those born with Asperger have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulty with understanding and processing language.

Dovi’s journey with special education began at The Hearing and Language Unit, where he learnt how to speak and communicate with the outside world.

“I then went to Crossroads Remedial School, where I struggled to make friends and often felt very lonely. My transition to King David Linksfield in Grade 4 was based on the condition that I would have a facilitator sit with me throughout the school day,” he explained.

Entering the King David school system so late made him realise that Jewish education for him “was a privilege and not a birthright”.

In January 2013, tragedy struck when his dad Shaun Lipshitz was shot and killed in front of him during an attempted house robbery.

“God gave me 15 precious years with my father, during which time I learnt so much from him. I had the privilege of watching him interact with his family and friends and I learnt what it meant to be faithful, to be purposeful and to be loyal,” Dovi said, clearly emotional.

He described his dad as a man of honesty and integrity in all he did. His dad always taught him to “play the hand I have been dealt”. “These words resonated in my head throughout my matric year and motivated me to keep going at my most stressful points.

“When my dad passed away, I took it upon myself to follow in his footsteps by being the best person I could be in every aspect of life. I felt very proud at valedictory evening when my personal and academic growth was acknowledged.”

Despite the challenges he faced, Dovi beat the odds to obtain five distinctions in Afrikaans, English, Hebrew, History and Life Orientation.

He was due to only get his results on Friday, and was chilling at a beach in Plettenberg Bay on Thursday “feeling pretty confident but also quite nervous”.

Looking back on his achievements Dovi said he was indebted to his many therapists, teachers, friends and family. “Their determination helped me be the best I could be and their unconditional love allowed me not only to embrace but also accept my differences,” he said.

Next year Dovi will be taking a gap year in Israel where he hopes to learn “an abundance of life lessons”, form new friendships and experience independence.

He plans to study for an accounting or BCom degree upon his return.


The Star

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