This guest post is by Quinten Brody, a young man on the autism spectrum who was accepted into Keene State College and University at Buffalo. Quinten 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.
At the age of three, I was diagnosed with a developmental disability that affects one out of 54 children in the United States. Today, at the age of 17, I can reflect back and realize that my greatest achievement has been finding personal success while balancing a life with autism.
Throughout elementary school, I constantly struggled with the social aspects of life. Compulsive behaviors made my early years challenging, and creating relationships with classmates, teachers, and family was incredibly difficult. This led me to become frustrated and lonely. My family and school also realized I was struggling and needed assistance. In an effort to change this, I was enrolled in numerous social skills groups and visited many therapists, with varying degrees of success. As I grew older and continued to participate in these groups, I realized that I was beginning to have a better handle on my disability. I was making friends, engaging in reciprocal conversations, and succeeding in school.
In high school, my social skills group leader offered me the opportunity to work in the group as a peer model and assistant. My instructor saw me as someone who could teach others to regulate their emotions, initiate conversations, and see the world through a different lens. At first, my social anxiety made me question whether or not I was fit for the job. However, with the support of those around me and confidence in the strategies I learned throughout my life, I chose to accept the job offer in my sophomore year. I realized this was my chance to mentor other children with autism; I could use my social and emotional progress to assist others in coping with their disabilities. Initially the task was daunting. Transitioning from a participant to a group leader felt strange, but I soon realized that helping people came naturally to me. To this day I continue to work to support children ranging from kindergarteners to high school graduates. As a part of my job, I provide support, encouragement, and guidance to these children in an effort to help them adapt to living with autism. Working with this group has not only helped them grow, but it has also helped me to achieve a sense of confidence and belonging. Whereas before I acted compulsively, irrationally, and sometimes aggressively, I now act with forethought and self-assurance.
Moving forward, I realize autism will still present challenges for me, but I continue to improve, and I am well equipped to tackle the social and emotional challenges of college. If, when I was younger, anyone were to ask me if I planned to attend college, the answer would probably have been no. I lacked the ability to effectively communicate, the self-awareness, and the self-confidence to function in a college setting. While these can be a challenge to this day, I now have the necessary skills to surmount these obstacles and continue my successes despite my diagnosis.
Throughout my life, I have been very fortunate to have so many people help me. I am blessed to have the opportunity to “make a difference” helping others.
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.