This guest post is by Nandita Thayyil, a young woman on the autism spectrum who was accepted into Georgia State University. Nandita 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. Can I ask for a favor? I’m trying to make this nonprofit self-sufficient so I can make this my full-time job supporting the special needs community and would appreciate you taking a minute before reading on to watch this video below and subscribing to our Youtube page here to get to learn more about the work we do in the community.
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.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disorder that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors. As a kid, I was diagnosed with autism, but I did not let it impact my learning skills. My overall weakness is reading comprehension and vocabulary. In reading comprehension, I struggle with summarizing the overall view of a story and also struggle with trying to find the definition using the key words in the sentence. If I see a word in which I don’t recognize the meaning of, I use a strategy known as context clues, which means that I would search for some key words to find the meaning of the vocab word. My ability of hard work helped me fight against that weakness. My strengths include algebra, statistics, and logical thinking. Math was not an easy subject in elementary school, however I started liking the subject and became really good at it. But later on, I have improved and actually became really good at Statistics. I have a learning skill which is known as photographic memory. Photographic memory is a skill in which a person can remember a specific topic without any reference.
When I started remote learning in senior year, the beginning was not rosy! I struggled with keeping up with assignments, quizzes, and tests. However, using a planner helped me catch up and understand the subject. Online learning taught me new ways I can study in the digital world. For example, in Statistics, I use Excel for representing a graph or handwriting the graph and pasting it to OneNote, taking tests in websites such as Go formative, Microsoft Forms, and even the school portal called CTLS. The reason I was struggling with online learning was because of the habit of taking short cuts. Though I don’t purposely do it, I have a habit of studying a hard subject and just take parts of it and not studying the whole thing. But now I am not taking short cuts and slowly going through the concept.
When it comes to society, I struggle with making friends. This realization came around 5th grade. My classmates used to pick on me, steal my belongings, and step on my shoes purposely without even saying sorry. In Middle School it was different than how I felt in the last year of elementary school. Starting around 6th grade, many classmates were really nice to me, which was the reason of my popularity. Little did I know that they were trying to be my friend just to make fun of me in social media. Now I don’t have social media, but I heard many gossips about me that were on social media. When it comes to group projects, I would only work with people I am familiar with. But most of my classmates are not my close friends. They are mainly those kids who pretend to be my friend just to try to unlock my vulnerable state. And sometimes I end up doing all the work while the rest are just chatting or maybe do less work such as just write your name and provide the glue.
When I became a Freshman, I completely changed, ignoring people who would try to bother me and also learned to just say no to any suspicious questions or maybe asking to be part of a selfie, I would politely say no and walk away without any words. I went from an innocent weak person to a strong brave girl. I learned that I was letting myself become a victim of being exposed in social media. I actually have 5 close friends who have the same interests and same struggles as I do. I met them at the first day of high school, well two of my friends I have met during 7th grade, but we were not that close but got really close in high school. One of my friends actually has the same struggle and uses the same strategies as I do. However, a struggle I face when it comes with social interaction is changing the topic. I have a habit in which if I am apart of a conversation with both my family and my friends, I talk about something else. Though it is a habit I still face, I work on just keeping silent and going with the flow. I also have a struggle in repeating things silently right after speaking in a conversation. It’s a habit that I struggle to control, but somehow, I feel the need to repeat it, but instead I try to just hum instead of repeating my statement after a conversation. My friends are not really bothered by it, but I still work on controlling that habit.
I have been apart of the IEP program ever since I was in kindergarten. About four of my friends are also a part of the IEP program, but two are not really comfortable with it. To be honest I do not have an opinion about being apart of IEP, if it helps me then it will be a benefit. When I was in 5th grade, I was not in the right placement. I was put into an on-level classroom and because of that, I was struggling to keep up with the curriculum. When I moved to Georgia, I attended Dickerson Middle School, which provided me small group classes. This helped me learn better as well as understanding the concept. Later around 8th grade of Spring Semester, I was finally ready to go back to on level class, I just need to take small steps before reaching back to on-level. After high school, I will be attending Georgia State Perimeter College for 2 years and then I will transfer to Georgia State University to complete 3rd and 4th year of bachelor’s degree.
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.