This guest post is by Fernando Morales a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into University of Oklahoma studying Health and Exercise Science. Fernando 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.
My life was different compared to others for the most part due to my autism diagnosis. There are many challenges that came along with being autistic. For a long time, I didn’t know why I felt different among everyone or why I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I was bullied, picked on, teased, and had very little to no friends. The exception was at home even though I sometimes felt left out there as well. I would try to be part of a conversation with my cousins, uncles, aunts, brother, and/or my parents, but I didn’t know what to say. My parents did not know I had Asperger’s until we went to go visit my Aunty Valerie and she figured it out when I was nine and I didn’t realize it until they told me. My Aunty’s observation was confirmed when my parents had the school do a formal evaluation with professionals so I could get the help and guidance I needed. It was a shocking revelation to both me and my parents.
After I learned about my diagnosis, I kept asking myself, “What does that mean? Is that why I kept getting picked on? Is that why I keep getting so angry? Does this really define who I am and what is in store for me in the future?” I had no idea what to think of the diagnosis and didn’t really understand from a medical standpoint, or really from any standpoint on what it meant. I was lost for a little bit because I kept thinking, “If I didn’t know who I was before, I definitely don’t know now.” A couple of years later, after I got my anger under control and when I had a general understanding of Aspergers, I decided to look it up and found a definition of it from the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT).
The more I read, the more I realized that it was not just describing people like me, this is me. I didn’t really talk to anyone nor did I understand what they were saying most of the time. I also had a very bad speech impediment growing up, and I really could not tell whether people were mad, happy and sad for the longest time. I was flabbergasted on how much I did not know about myself and others like me. The years after that, I kept looking into Asperger’s and accepted that it was a part of who I am.
However, I refused to accept that this was all of who I am. I did have to overcome things due to my Aspergers, such as my anger management, my social behavior with others and myself and my speech impediment just to name a few. I didn’t have to overcome those things alone though, I had help from my family, friends, in-home trainer, a social worker, and a speech therapist. As I got older and matured, I realized that who I am isn’t defined by the one unique thing about me. It is the actions and challenges I have experienced and overcome, as well as the people in my life that make me feel unique. I care about my family more than anything in the world. I tend to care about other like my friends more than I worry about myself. I’ve played football through most of high school, I run track and cross country, and I love making PB&J’s more than any other snack in the world.
When my parents and I inform others about my diagnosis and them knowing everything I do, they are shocked or don’t believe it. They tend to say, “He doesn’t look or appear autistic”. Then they ask us, “How were you able to accomplish and do so much?”, or “Since when did you have autism?” At first, I didn’t know what to answer besides, “I had help”, but I asked them (mainly my friends), “Why don’t you believe that I am autistic?” and after asking that question, I realized asperger’s and autism are depicted differently by many people. From that point on, I wanted to show people exactly what I’m capable of and that being autistic does not limit me or others like me. To this day that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Texas MileSplit, a national runner’s online publication, was even so amazed with what I have accomplished that they asked my parents and I if they could write an article about me, my autism, and my accomplishments. Of course, I said yes because I wanted others like me, even remotely, and their parents to see that they are not limited or defined by their autism.
Though I am autistic, it doesn’t mean that I can’t achieve my goals like everyone else. There have been people with different types of autism, that have made a name for themselves. Though I am not looking to be famous or to be in the history books, I am trying to make a difference in the world and in my community. For this reason, I will be majoring in Health and Exercise Science at the University of Oklahoma to pursue my dream of becoming a Physical Therapist and to inspire others with Aspergers/Autism that nothing is out of reach if they set their minds to it and that they’re not defined by any end of the spectrum.
Join us for our Free Workshop “The Transition To Adulthood For Those With Autism” on 4/30 at 8PM where I’ll be talking about topics such as our autism scholarship program – Register at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vofL2kFjRBCSHGJ5JcfyVA
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.