This guest post is by Colin Tang, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into Mercyhurst University, Hiram College and Westminster College. Colin 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 family situation was challenging. There was constant fighting, moving, and people coming and going. My parents were divorced, and I was moved between three households. At this time, my mother had sole custody of me, and she was trying to get her life back together after a messy divorce with my father. There was no stability in the household and my mom wasn’t happy at the time. My mother was never financially stable either, going from job to part-time job, to completely stop working. The lack of funds caused the house to fall into disrepair. People started to notice just how bad things were.
An area I struggled with was my ability to communicate my needs. I failed to bring any attention to many matters that were troubling. I also failed to ask for help as I did not know how to do so without my mother getting upset at me.
Apart from my childhood, autism has affected multiple other areas of my life, including my education. I had an extensive psychological evaluation which clarified my diagnosis and suggested possible ADHD and that I was on the Autism Spectrum. The evaluation stated that I had poor language skills and I needed to be in therapy.
At the age of 10, I was sent to Re-Education Services with classmates who had similar conditions. One of the challenges I faced was that I was unable to concentrate on a specific task, and the environment provided by Re-Education Services made it even harder for me to concentrate on learning. Another obstacle between me and academic success was my penmanship. Because of my poor fine motor skills, my writing was so illegible that chicken scratch would have been a compliment. My teachers had difficulty understanding what I had written, so I was assigned a scribe to assist me with writing tasks until my writing skills developed.
Aside from education, autism affected my social and intrapersonal skills. I had no friends as I knew nothing about boundaries, had trouble understanding nonverbal social cues, was hyperactive, and had difficulty following directions. In addition, I was unable to carry any meaningful conversation, which greatly hindered my communication with peers and teachers alike. My behaviors and lack of social skills made it impossible to benefit from a student/teacher relationship and left me with an impoverished social life.
Then for high-school, I was transferred to Grand River Academy, a private, college preparatory boarding school. By the end of my first year, I had already participated in two sports and received two academic awards. I received a quality, personalized education at my high school and it has proved to be extraordinarily beneficial to my academic, social, and psychological well-being. Along with the education, Grand River has also provided me with a consistent social setting. With personalized instruction, my grades have improved so that I earn As and Bs. The teachers worked very closely with me to mentor me. I have made friends in many different social circles which have expanded my knowledge and greatly improved my interpersonal skills. Not only have I become good friends with other students, but because of the close-knit community, I have become good friends with all of the teachers as well. I have not only befriended the student body, but I also have become a very active member of the Grand River Academy student body.
I feel as though I have gone through tremendous personal, academic, athletic and social growth throughout my high school years. After the last several years, I now feel so secure as I was able to go through an emotional transformation. I plan to take what I have learned and continue my development at a liberal arts college while preparing myself to make a meaningful impact on society. I plan on pursuing a Business major to make a meaningful impact on society.
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.