This guest post is by Dalton Weathersby a young man on the autism spectrum who was accepted into the University of South Carolina where he is Majoring in statistics. Dalton 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!).

I am Dalton Weathersby. I am 21 years old and a junior at the University of South Carolina. I became diagnosed with Asperger’s when I was three.

Growing up with autism has had its triumphs and trials. Early on, I had trouble with emotions and facial cues. I would laugh when I was in trouble. During elementary school, meltdowns were common. I was once suspended in the first grade for punching a teacher. As elementary school continued, the meltdowns began to decrease. Finally, by fifth grade, we were moved to a school with an autism resource room. This is a big help, and I thank every school should have such a room. This period was not all bad. I averted a meltdown when the wrong snack was packed on my school field trip to the USS Yorktown in Charleston.

Middle school was a good example of the effect of an autism resource room. During that three-year period, there were only three minor meltdowns, and two of those happened in the first few months of the sixth grade. There were some great triumphs. During eighth grade, I won my school Geography Bee and came up one question short of going to the finals in the state Geography Bee. I even showed up on the local news. In the sixth and seventh grades, my grades were high. However, the same could not be said in the eighth grade. In math, which is a class I usually get an A or B in, my grade fell to a D by the end of the third quarter. Even the homework was tough. It would often take me an hour to do three problems. I finished with a low B, but the teacher said that I did not feel ready for the next level up.

The first year of high school had its hard moments. After a strong start, my English grade fell all the way to an F. After weeks of trying hard but coming up short. I chose to go down from the Honors level class. This trial turned to triumph as I came just four points shy of a B. Had the semester been a little longer, I would had pulled it off. My sophomore year of high school is probably the second-best example of a trial and a triumph. The first half went just fine, but the second half had the first meltdown of any type since middle school. During World History class, I had sensory overload that led to me throwing my school iPad. Then another meltdown happened the following Monday in the same class, where I shattered a window with a divider. I felt that this was it. I thought “how would the University of South Carolina accept someone who shattered a window”? The turnaround would be the final months of that school year as I finished with 6 A’s and 2 B’s. During junior year, stress hit an all-time high. However, it paid off as I got my first college credits with a 4 out of 5 on the AP Statistics exam. I also got straight A’s for the first time in high school. While I did not take an AP class during senior, much was the same, save for the reduced stress level. All my work paid off when I got the letter saying that I was accepted into USC.

During my first year in college I ran into problems on the first day. I was waiting in what I thought was the bus stop that would go near my next class, but after 30 minutes, no bus arrived. I was so angry. Eventually I walked to my next class and arrived late, thinking I was going to miss a ton of material. I also commuted my first year, which took about an hour round-trip. Due to this long commute, I found it hard to join clubs and did not join any during my first semester. I also took Viking Mythology, which I thought was going to be an easy A, but it was not. During the second semester, I joined a club and also got straight A’s. During this time, I also filled out a form to be living on campus the following Fall and chose to live with roommates.

Living in a dorm was different than commuting. I could actually go to clubs. I even went to sporting events that were not on a weekday, which was out of my comfort zone. That is not to say that classes were any easier. During my first exam for a Stats class, I bubbled in the wrong test form and failed. I could not believe it when I got the score back. While the test was corrected, I made sure to spend a few extra seconds making sure the test form was correct. There were also two more major changes. During one of them, my pills felt like they were no longer working, and I had to up the dose on my Concerta. I also changed my major from Accounting to Statistics, which became a long process.

By far, the best example of the trials and triumphs of my life had to be last Spring. The stress remained high almost the entire semester. I was also taking 17 credit hours. The stress got so bad that I missed the day of the club fair. By the midpoint, my grade in Math was a C+ and I also had a C in Latin. There were also days where my roommates were loud, and I couldn’t sleep. I spent hours on work and even then, it didn’t feel like enough. I was almost at a breaking point. Finally, the semester ended in early May and the triumph finally arrived. I turned a C+ into an A in Math and had three A’s overall. I await the next triumphs and trials of my life.

-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