This guest post is by Chase DePue, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and will be attending Saint Joseph University majoring in International Relations with the hopes of a dual major with two minors in Economics, Asian Studies and Business Analytics. Chase 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!).
Hi, I’m Chase DePue, and I was diagnosed by three different doctors with three different disorders on the spectrum: autism, Aspergers, and PDD-NOS. Which disorder exactly I have doesn’t matter – what does matter is how I’ve grown as a person.
Adjectives make things interesting. You can be big or small, or skinny or fat, and being a cargo pilot is certainly different from being a stunt pilot. Really, where would we be without adjectives? But for this story, none of those adjectives matter quite as much as this one: autistic.
I was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, but I have to wonder how special I really am for it. None of my symptoms were all that special: a lack of empathy, eyes and hands going to faraway places, a knack for inanimate objects, all the telltale signs were there. I was diagnosed around the same age most others are. I liked all the things any boy my age would like, nothing special there either. Still, I do know what part of my story that’s special for me: all of the negative things that may come because of autism, the ones that hold you back from doing great things, I progressed.
You’d be surprised to hear that I don’t actually know how or when that happened. Maybe it was when I started sitting with other kids at lunch in fourth grade; maybe it was when I decided to stop playing video games in sixth grade. But personally, I’m starting to think one of the biggest reasons I overcame autism’s downsides was that I just decided to start pushing myself.
Autism is a disorder that can sometimes make people have challenges. All the energy you should be using to learn social cues and societal expectations, you use on short-term enjoyment instead. I didn’t play outside because I couldn’t care to interact with my classmates, let alone how to do it right. I did just fine, I decided, doing things on my own, making my own terms and not having to listen to someone else’s rules. Then when my big shift came around, everything I originally rejected became colored in and the world opened itself up to me.
When I came to and learned how to decode social situations, it was like beginning to see in color when your vision has been black-and-white your whole life. I realized that besides just what came out of someone’s mouth, you could find out other things about them from how they spoke it: how they felt, what their personality was, and whether they even liked you at all. And alongside that, I started to care about my future too. I began to apply my learning to things that would make me more successful: history, science, fitness, even business; nothing was out of bounds. In the end, living in the real world, with all its subtleties and complexities, was loads better than living in something made-up.
High school is coming to a close, and independent living is only a short distance away. Looking back at what I have accomplished, I know that on my own I will not only do well, but excel. The adaptation to independent living is a big hurdle for everyone, but after I remember that I’ve brought myself over obstacles even bigger than this, I know my transition to adult life is in good hands: my own.
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.