This guest post is by Chase McVay, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and will be attending Georgia Southwestern University majoring in Geology. Chase is applying for the Spring 2019 Making a Difference Autism Scholarship via the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference. You can read more about the organization and how to apply for our scholarship here. You can help our scholarship program continue to help these students by making a donation to our scholarship fund here (the majority of our scholarship program is ran through donors from our community such as yourself so no matter if you could donate anything, whether it be $5 anywhere up to $5,000 it would be making a difference!).
My name is Chase McVay, I have Aspergers. But being the son of an Air Force Veteran and a Geologist you can imagine the challenges I have had with moving around, ALOT. I have been blessed to have seen and lived in various cool places in the country. I really enjoy collecting Godzilla memorabilia & movies, studying dinosaurs and playing video games.
As far back as I can remember, I was not like the other kids in my neighborhood or school. In fact, I only had maybe one friend and I usually preferred to stick to myself. During recess I would swing alone on the swing sets or be far away from the other kids by myself digging in the dirt on the playground with a flat rock or stick. In 2010, when I was 9 years old, my parents had me tested at the University of Oklahoma, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and Dysgraphia. These disabilities presented many challenges for me both socially and academically growing up and will continue into my adult life. However, I have learned how to adapt, so if I were able to share a piece of advice to my younger self regarding having a diagnosis of a learning difference, I would say stay focused on the tasks at hand and have a great attitude as everything will be alright!
During Elementary and Middle School, the lack of motor skills and Dysgraphia presented challenges. Although I knew the correct answer to a question, often, I would not get credit for my work because my teachers couldn’t read my writing. I stayed focused and the school tried multiple ways to help. First, I was given a type of keyboard device to use. Unfortunately, the device was clunky and limited memory and was slow to react to typing. This only worked for about 2 years. The next effort was some kind of grip enhancing device that was placed on my pencils that was supposed to help improve my writing, but that just faded out once I got into middle school. At that time, my IEP was changed to reflect that I would be provided printed notes. This has worked well through High School and I’m proud to say I have straight A’s my first semester of my senior year.
Besides bad motor skills and Dysgraphia, another challenge that Asperger’s Syndrome has challenged me with is not integrating socially with others. In school, most of time in class I am silent and don’t say a word until I’m talked to first. I keep to a small group of people. Most of the time I find myself helping my teachers rather than going to pep rallies and other social events that include large crowds or loud noises like sports events etc. Despite my introverted behavior, I have worked very hard to get out of my comfort zone, as I know that life itself will force me to interact with others socially and professionally. Integrating socially at church has been my biggest success. I have a group of loving friends that support me and include me in all activities despite my disabilities. I regularly participate in Bible Studies, Sunday school, church retreats, mission trips and other service projects. In fact, I was a member of the Student Leadership Development Team which organized and planned a youth mission trips.
Most things that other people are interested in, I can’t relate to because they don’t seem special and often seem very repetitive to me. The only interests that I have had throughout my entire life is my fascination for Godzilla, Paleontology and video games. My ability to focus and my gift of excellent recall has allowed me to excel in this three areas of interest. I plan to use my gift by majoring in Paleontology in college and hopefully getting a job at a museum or university after I graduate.
In closing, having Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and Dysgraphia has presented many challenges and disadvantages for me both and socially. However, I am proud of the fact that I have adapted quite well with the help of parents, teachers, medicine, and counseling. It is clear, my disabilities will never go away, so younger Chase, stay focused as you will be successful. Academically, you will find that you will have straight “A’s” in your senior year in High School. Socially, you will find yourself successfully participating in High School clubs and holding a leadership position in your church youth group. So, remember when things gets tough, just know that with God’s help and staying focused, you will be successful.
Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help us continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.
Also, consider having Kerry, one of the only professionally accredited speakers on the spectrum in the country, speak at your next event by sending him an inquiry here. If you have a referral for someone who many want him to speak please reach out as well! Kerry speaks with schools, businesses, government agencies, colleges, nonprofit organizations, parent groups and other special events on topics ranging from employment, how to succeed in college with a learning disability, internal communication, living with autism, bullying prevention, social media best practices, innovation, presentation best practices and much more!
We’d also appreciate if you could take a minute to create a Facebook Fundraiser to support our nonprofit’s scholarship fund! You can learn more about how you can do just that here.