This guest post is by Sydney Holmes a young woman on the autism spectrum who is attending Shorter University. Sydney is applying for our Spring 2018 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 here (the majority of our scholarship program is ran through donors from our community such as yourself).
My name is Sydney Holmes and I am a history education major at Shorter University. When I was six years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
College is already a tough transition for teens everywhere. So naturally, it’s a little more difficult when you are a little slow on the social side of things, and your anxiety is always at a 10. College overall has been a different but nice transition. I think that is mainly due to the fact that I did dual enrollment courses to help the transition move along smoother. It helped me get used to talking to professors, finding classes in different buildings, taking care of online assignments, and handling things without my mom’s help. I recommend dual enrollment to all aspie high school seniors. I can’t imagine what this transition would have been like otherwise. So here is a little bit of what my transition has been like my freshman year.
Anxiety is almost a given for the upcoming school year. It’s happened every year of my life so far, and college was no exception. My biggest stressors have been over: getting homework submitted on time, getting to class on time (especially when professors let you out late and you have back to back classes), and trying to be social. However, I have been blessed with a great roommate and suitemate who have been more than helpful throughout this process. My roommate has a really good friend back home with Aspergers so she was already familiar with the highs and lows of Aspie life. My suitemate had never heard of it before, but is supportive nonetheless. Telling them this huge part of my life was a really difficult, but I am so glad I shared this with them. In all honesty I only told them out of necessity. We are living together, they need to know I’m not exactly the easiest person to live with. I eventually need to tell my sorority, but I honestly have no idea how to tell 20 plus girls this information. I really do not plan on telling anyone else unless it is relevant to the conversation. But, we are three peas in a pod and even in the same sorority. Whenever I’m upset or stressed out, they help me sort it out.
My first week at college was amazing and a little crazy. After classes I had Greek recruitment every afternoon, making time to eat and get homework done really stressful. I love all of my professors and classes. The academic part of school hasn’t ever been an issue for me. I just had to get used to the crazy last minute plan life of college. Piece of cake right?
The hard part about college is the being social part. What clubs do I want to try out? Where can I meet people who have similar interests as me? Where will I fit in and be happy? Where is my college family? This has probably been the most socially stressed out I have ever been in my life. I decided to try Greek life. Sororities are supposed to be your sisters and have your back no matter what. What better place for a socially awkward girl to hang out? I was so excited when I got my bid. I had a new family. I looked into other clubs at my school. I joined BCM which is a ministry club, and applied to several more clubs. I am still waiting on the confirmation emails. The best advice I can give to other transitioning Aspies is to at least try to get out of your comfort zone.
Lastly, living with someone I have just met was a little strange. Thank goodness we are practically the same person so everything has worked out beautifully. First day of school we had to sign a roommate agreement, provided by our RA, and we realized that our biggest “arguments” would be over the thermostat. My roommate likes to be a little more chilly than I prefer, but that’s why I packed 10 million blankets. It was so easy getting to know her and figuring out how we fit together. It helps to remember that she is just like me in this, we both have no idea what we’re doing. We are both new to this whole college thing and it’s ok to not know things.
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 contacting him here.