This guest post is by Louisa Ann Wuethrich, a woman on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and will be attending Grand Canyon University where she is majoring in Christian Studies. Louisa is applying for the Spring 2019 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 to our scholarship fund here (the majority of our scholarship program is ran through donors from our community such as yourself so no matter if you could donate anything, whether it be $5 anywhere up to $5,000 it would be making a difference!).
My name is Louisa Ann Wuethrich and I was blessed with an Asperger’s diagnosis when I was 34 years old, which greatly assisted me in understanding my life. I enjoy sewing, quilting, making homemade yeast bread to give away, and knitting hats for charity. I have found a new home at Restoration, a messianic synagogue and I strive to overcome the negative impacts of Asperger’s so that I can better connect with and assist people within this community.
When I think it over, I’ve actually always wanted to be a part of Christian ministry in some way. I first came to God at a very young age and grew up knowing Him personally. It’s true that during my teen years and post high school I didn’t know I wanted this because the career goal I thought I wanted was actually only a symbol of what I really wanted. But in essence this is what I’ve always longed for.
I didn’t even suspect I was on the Autism Spectrum until I was about 30. It was only during my twenties that I became aware that I was “different” in ways I couldn’t pin down. Then, around the turn of the century something got me searching the internet to learn about autism symptoms, and I kept seeing myself everywhere I looked. Then the way was made for me to get tested, and I received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 34. It made sense of my entire life, and I learned even more about myself as I learned more about Asperger’s over the next few years, and people around me learned to understand me better.
In any case I grew up not knowing I possessed the classic autism struggle—longing to “connect” with people, to share myself, and share in who they were, but never understanding how to accomplish this. Having rare moments of fulfillment, but generally always feeling on the outside looking in. Growing into adulthood I found I always connected extremely well with those who were hurting. Always longed to be a part of helping them, but felt helpless and unable to do so. I was making a pitiful living in in customer service jobs I hated and was never anything more than adequate for, living for church related activities when I could be about the things of life that I really cared for. The things that I really wanted to be about full time.
Getting my Asperger’s diagnosis provided me a way to understand why there never seemed to be a way to fit in the area I longed to be in. As I learned to understand myself, as people learned to understand me, and as I grew as a personally and in my Christian faith, I slowly began to find places where I fit in, and moments in small group settings where I could encourage and help others who were struggling or hurting. It wasn’t much, but it was good.
Then, in 2015, God maneuvered me to Restoration Synagogue, transitioned me from Sunday worship service to Saturday worship service, and I had the joy of diving into messianic Judaism, messianic worship dance, dive into learning about the Jewish roots to my faith, and becoming a part of a congregation that really drew me in, received me and accepted me in a way I had never experienced before. Not that anything was ever wrong with my previous churches. But I began to experience community on a new level that I’d never experienced before. And when I occasionally had relational ‘episodes’ which stressed me out and caused me to create chaos while I was trying to be understood, the leaders treated me in helpful ways that blew my mind—never judging me, but not allowing me to disrespect others either; understanding me, but making sure I understood the others’ perspective too.
I quickly came to be constantly borrowing books from Rabbi Matt’s library, sometimes amazing him by how quickly I’d read something, or by reading cover-to-cover a book that’s generally used for reference purposes only. I was also invited to become a part of the team that welcomes people to service—not by being a “greeter”, but by being the person who sets things up. And while worship dance for me is as natural a part of me as breathing, being a part of dance is considered as a volunteer ministry position. It’s like my life is beginning.
So now with the help of a new friend at Restoration, I find that Asperger’s may afford me the opportunity to do something that I could not do on my own: afford to return to college and finally complete my bachelor’s degree in the major that I for a number of years have longed to complete: Christian Studies. It’s true that I long to complete a bachelor’s degree just to have a bachelor’s degree; however my highest hope is that completing this major will open up new ways for me to be of service at Restoration, open up new ways for me to overcome the areas where Asperger’s makes it difficult for me to truly minister to people in the way I’ve always longed to.
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 sending him an inquiry here. If you have a referral for someone who many want him to speak please reach out as well! Kerry speaks with schools, businesses, government agencies, colleges, nonprofit organizations, parent groups and other special events on topics ranging from employment, how to succeed in college with a learning disability, internal communication, living with autism, bullying prevention, social media best practices, innovation, presentation best practices and much more!
We’d also appreciate if you could take a minute to create a Facebook Fundraiser to support our nonprofit’s scholarship fund! You can learn more about how you can do just that here.