This guest post is by Jacob Groom, a young man on the autism spectrum who was accepted into Texas A&M in Galveston. Jacob is applying for the Spring 2021 Making a Difference Autism Scholarship via the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference started by me, Kerry Magro. I was nonverbal till 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at 4 and you can read more about my organization here.
I hope you can support my nonprofit like I’m trying to support these students with scholarship aid for college. Learn more on how you can help our cause with a small donation (just asking for $3 today, equal to your daily cup of coffee) here.
It is not easy being a young adult, let alone a college student with Aspergers Syndrome. It impacts my social skills, communication, sensory processing, motor skills, and as a result also causes me to have anxiety. My parents, grandparents, teachers, church, faith, and my Aspergers itself has helped me learn, grow, and become who I am today. Each Aspergers challenge and struggle has taught me something and is helping me to become stronger and to persevere.
Making eye contact is a real struggle for me because looking someone in the eyes is uncomfortable and can be overwhelming. I also have a difficult time interpreting facial expressions and body language. The social anxiety it gives me also can cause me to seem quiet and reserved around people who don’t know me. I want to take more risks and be ok with whatever happens, but I am not there yet. I know I am different, but I want to be accepted and appreciated for who I am.
In addition to my social struggles, my Aspergers can also cause me to have sensory overloads. Although all of my senses are pretty sensitive, my hearing is the most extreme and can be quite painful at times. When I was young, this caused me to have meltdowns. As I grew older, I adapted by putting my hands over my ears. These days, I wear earplugs. Rallies, assemblies, and sporting events are just a few regular activities which I had to prepare myself for. Little did I know that I would eventually miss all of these things very dearly when we went virtual during my senior year.
Because of my enhanced senses, my Aspergers causes me to be easily distracted by what is going on around me. If my environment is overstimulating, I can become distracted and look around at the source of distraction. This happens a lot during lectures when I am taking notes. When I was in elementary school, I received support from special education services. In high school, I received support from 504 services. In addition to these supports, I also take medication which helps me to focus. I work extremely hard to pay attention and to concentrate in my classes. I graduated from high school in the top 10% of my class with a 4.0-grade point average, and 30 hours of college credit. I had a 3.74-grade point average for my first semester as a college student at Hill Jr. College while working a part-time job at a local grocery store. My hard work at Hill was acknowledged when I was placed on the Dean’s List as well as the President’s List for the Fall semester of the 2020 school year. I was also recognized for my hard work by being inducted into the National Honor Society in high school and the National Society for Leadership and Success (N.S.L.S.) through Hill College. My Aspergers does have its positive side; I have an awesome memory, which has also helped me in my academic success.
My dream is to major in Marine Biology. I’ve always loved the water and have an attachment to the ocean. After I graduate college, I hope to work at an aquarium, marine park, rescue center, or research facility. They are my favorite places to be, which inspire me to take this course of action. When my parents and I vacationed in Destin, Florida, we went to Gulfarium Marine Park. I had the opportunity to take part in animal interaction experiences. Interacting with marine animals made me feel happy and at peace, making me realize that I want to make a life out of this. It felt natural and like I belonged.
When I am upset or feel afraid, I turn to my faith. I also like to swing outside and listen to music. It calms me. Finally, the best thing that helps me with obstacles is I have is the support of my family. They taught me how to have solid study habits and even stronger work habits. They accept me and love me for who I am. My Aspergers has taught me so much through the years and I am continuing to learn and grow with it.
My parents and I visited Texas A&M in Galveston in the summer of 2019. During our time there, I had the opportunity to tour my dream school. It was fascinating to learn what campus life would be like, and to learn more about what the campus has to offer. From touring the academic halls and hearing about the authentic learning experiences to exploring the dorm rooms and learning about the anchor rules for classmen, everyone greeted me with a “Howdy.” I knew, without a doubt, it was the place I wanted to be. I was welcomed and felt like I belonged. I was elated in the Spring of 2021 when I found out that I was accepted to attend there in the fall of 2021.
I am not afraid of whatever the future may hold for me. Even with the challenges that come along, I know that I will have the support of my family, friends, and faith to guide me.
My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum that started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help support me so I can continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.