This guest post is by Avery Hewitta young woman on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into Trine University, studying Forensic Science and Pre-med. Avery is applying for the Spring 2020 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.

Essay writing was observed by Tank the rabbit.

Autism often gets a bad rep. Many think it is a word to describe dumb and out of touch people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in school and someone says something stupid and then people respond with this classic line: ‘what, are you autistic?’. And then I’m over here thinking please don’t group that guy with me, that’s not what autism is. But I never say anything out loud. Maybe because I have autism and confronting, let alone talking to people is very difficult for me. Maybe because I’m scared that people will group me in with this bad autism stereotype that is out there. Anyway, the fact is that many don’t know what autism really is, and I often don’t get the chance to educate people and share with them my experiences. I suppose that all changes today with me writing this essay.

Here’s the thing. I wasn’t diagnosed with autism until I was 18. Even the idea of me having autism didn’t cross my mind until I was 17. But still, growing up, I did always suspect that I wasn’t normal. As I got older, I noticed how trying to socialize became harder and way more draining. Not to mention the severe anxiety accompanied with it. By the 5th grade I got so anxious before going to any social gatherings. This included school. As a result, I experienced stomach pain caused by that anxiety everyday before school, and to this day, it still happens.

Let’s skip back to the time I first realized I might have autism. I was 17 and my mom and I were talking about why I am the way I am with all this anxiety. Then she told me that she suspected that I have autism, and she suspected that ever since I was very little. I was shocked and slightly offended at first because the only definition of autism I had was society’s common and negative stereotype of it. But after doing some research and getting to know what autism really is, I completely agreed with my mom. I learned that autism is a disorder that just means that you have trouble interacting with people and often display “restrictive and repetitive behavior”, which very accurately describes me.

Autism is a diagnosis that never goes away, but, there are definitely ways to work with it. I work with my autism by having a source of comfort. And that source for me is my rabbit, Tank. He is just so sweet and so good and I don’t feel the pressure of having to fit in around him at all. Often, I like to take him with me to places such as school. Tank is a subject even I can talk endlessly about. That paired with the fact that he is a great conversation starter just makes social interaction so much easier when he is around. And plus, he just makes many people around him so happy, which in turn makes me happy. As long as Tank is with me, my anxieties fade into the background.

Having autism doesn’t make anyone less of a person. We just differ in a few ways from the average person, like in how we are in social interactions and how we react to things. We all still have feelings. I wish that everyone knew what autism really entails so that the hurtful misuse of the word ends, but that’s definitely not going to happen anytime soon because you know how people are. So, anyway, the next time you’re trying to describe someone stupid, the word you’re looking for is ‘moron’, not ‘autistic’.

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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.