This guest post is by Delaney Buell who was accepted into Cogswell Polytechnic College where she will be studying Digital Animation. Delaney is applying for the Spring 2018 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 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 Delaney Buell and I am a High School senior at Monterey Coast Prep, in Scotts Valley, Ca. I have just been Accepted to Cogswell College for Digital Animation and will be starting in the fall. I’ve struggled with everyday obstacles in my life: communication with my peers, asking for what I need, and making myself understood. I have had difficulty with writing essays in particular. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of things to say, but sometimes it’s hard to convey them with words.

When I was little I couldn’t communicate with people and when I tried they usually didn’t understand what I was trying to say. Most children didn’t want to associate with me because they thought I was weird. I didn’t understand jokes and on top of that I couldn’t read or spell very well. This was because in addition to my autism I have dyslexia which affects my reading and writing. My moms (I have two moms) told me I had autism when I was diagnosed at the age of three. As a three-year-old, I didn’t understand what that word really meant, or how it would affect my life. It was hard for me to understand that autism is a mental condition that starts in early childhood and would affect the way I interact with people or how I process my surroundings. I would soon learn the hard way when my parents put me in school.

Through grammar school and one year of High School, I was constantly reminded I wasn’t welcome. As I got older my autism got milder and milder thanks to the Center of Social Thinking–classes to help with my communication and social skills–but being at school was still a struggle. I was put in the Special Ed class in sixth, and some of the ninth grade. Those were the worst years of my life. It wasn’t just the bullying and teasing, but the classes were degrading. For example, they would give me reading assignments well below my grade level and elementary math assignments. I didn’t learn anything from it because I didn’t get accommodations for Autism or dyslexia to be able to be put in the regular classes. Thanks to my family, they enrolled me in private school where I could get the proper accommodations for autism and dyslexia so I didn’t need to be in Special Ed. With these accommodations, I was able to learn better through my determination and persistence.

My moms say I’m a fighter and I refuse to give up. Finally finding an environment where I could thrive helped especially. The best ace up my sleeve is I couldn’t fold if my life depended on it. One of my greatest passions is to prove people wrong, especially if they flat out didn’t believe in me. I was head of the Advertising committee for students at Global Student Embassy (GSE) and took Community College classes when I was still in high school. Now I am classified by my peers as a bit shy but witty, not a freak or abnormal. When I told my friends in GSE I had Autism they were shocked. They suspected I was quiet and just like to keep to myself. True, I am not the most socially adept person, and I haven’t mastered the art of jokes yet. At least I can strike up a conversation with a stranger and interact with people outside of my family and they would understand what I’m saying. Through my struggles and perseverance, I have been accepted to Cogswell College to become a digital animator. From my determination and always believing in myself, I have been able to accomplish so much in my young life already. This is more than me and my family could ever have hoped for a chance at a productive life.

Though my life will never be normal (but whose is?) this is the biggest accomplishment towards a future I have always wanted. True, my autism gives me disadvantages neurotypical people won’t experience, but it has given me advantages that most neurotypical people don’t have. The fact that I had to struggle more has made me more ambitious and understanding of others. It’s driven me to develop my artistic skills so I can better communicate and show the human experience. Because I have a difficult time with verbal and written communication I built up my strengths in visual arts and am now heading for a career in animation. I want to show people that I have overcome my obstacles and that autism doesn’t have to hold anyone back.

-Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.- (2)

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.

We’d also appreciate if you could start a Facebook Fundraiser to support our nonprofit’s scholarship fund! You can learn more about how you can do just that here