This guest post is by Essy Froste, a young woman on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into Florida International University pursuing a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT). Essy 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.
When I was an infant, I used to speak a few words. By the time I was 12 months, those words disappeared, and I never spoke again until I turned 4. Before I began speaking words again, I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 ½. I used to make only high-pitched sounds. A few months later after my diagnosis, my younger brother was born and made things easier for me to practice my social and interactive skills. I believe that having a younger sibling has significantly improved many areas that I would struggle with. Growing up, I would have different occasions in which my peers would ridicule me for not behaving “like [a] norm[al],” indicating that I stood to them in unusual ways. This made me an easy target for social abuse. Also, dealing with the societal norms has usually been a challenge for me, like behaving in a certain way to “fit in the crowd.” I have learned to be myself as an autistic person in a supposedly “neurotypical” world by having support systems—my family, caregivers, SPED teachers, social workers, psychologists, behavior analysts, speech therapists, and occupational therapists.
My parents were the most resilient out of all the support systems growing up. They knew that there was something different about me and took drastic measures to know why I did not speak and interact with others, especially to them. After discovering my autism diagnosis, they realized, as I got older, that having autism brought many benefits into this world more than we can comprehend. Close to my senior year in high school, I was chosen to take part in the Best Buddies Leadership Conference in 2011 as a potential Buddy Director, representing students with disabilities at John A. Ferguson High School. This was the beginning of the leadership role that made me the person that I am today. I got to meet both people with and without disabilities alike and got to learn more about myself as a person.
I started pursuing the field of Occupational Therapy (OT) during my years in college. After figuring out this pursuit, I began to research and review more about the field, and I made connections with my life experiences and strengths. I began college at Miami Dade College (MDC), where I started the pathway into the field, and graduated with Highest Honors, and part of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society. The effect that I can have as an aspirating autistic occupational therapist was more than I can ever do, and I wanted to do this for many autistic children to have the chance to live extraordinary lives. I took most of the prerequisites for the OT program while I was studying at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Florida, which mainly consists of math and science. I recently graduated from FIU last year with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology – Magna Cum Laude. The strength that I have in math and science as an autistic person and the actual experiences I have lived with autism almost my whole life can truly have an impact on the autistic community.
It has not been easy for me preparing to enter the OT program. Autism has allowed me to see things that many people do not understand. Visualizing my concrete ways of perceiving the world can benefit others into seeing the world in a profound manner. Hopefully, I will be attending Florida International University to pursue a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) degree in August of this year. I am looking forward to the different ways I can influence the professionals and students in the program, and this can allow them to view autism in a different light.
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.