This guest post is by Demecos Hill, a young teen on the autism spectrum who is applying for our Spring 2017 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.
I realized that I was different from other kids at an early age. While other kids in my kindergarten class wanted to play and take naps, I wanted to read the chapter books that my teacher kept behind her desk. I wanted to research about the characters and try to make up my own stories about them. It may seem like any intelligent young child at that age, but still, I knew that I didn’t belong with that type of crowd. I continued to realize that I was different during first grade, when my principal came to my class and asked me if I would like to move up to third grade.
I initially thought that the change was temporary, but I eventually found out that it was permanent. This was when I really was treated differently. I was younger than everyone else, and I would almost never turn in an assignment late. I was not bullied over this, only teased. However, this still made me feel as if there was something wrong with me. During fourth and fifth grade, I began to slip in my classwork and began causing trouble, just to see if I could fit in. It got so bad during sixth grade that even though I was in therapy, I went to a different school.
It was during the therapy that I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, though I didn’t find this out until later. I researched what the disability was, and online I found that people with Asperger’s are usually obsessive over certain topics and have trouble making friends, both of which applied to me. Immediately, I felt self-conscious and thought that there was something wrong with me. I went into a short stage of depression, during which I began talking to myself, something I still do to this day in order to calm myself down or just to have someone to talk to. However, as time went on and as I transferred schools again for seventh and eighth grade, I began to realize that maybe this disability isn’t so bad after all.
Although I had come to this conclusion, it didn’t really sink in until my freshman year of high school. I was enrolled in an all-boy school and I didn’t know how to adjust from knowing everyone in my class (there were only eight of us; it was a small school) to knowing virtually no one. But, I managed to force myself to try to interact with those in my class. And oddly enough, it worked. I managed to make a few friends and even get invited to a few social outings. In the end, I realized that even with all the progress I made with myself and how I dealt with social situations, I still was barely scraping by academically. So that’s how I ended up at my current school, where I managed to catch up with some of my friends from childhood and meet a new best friend. I’m doing extremely well in school, and I am feeling much more confident in myself than I was when I was younger.
When I look back on my life, I realize now that my “disability” is more like a gift than a curse. One of my favorite quotes of all-time (I will talk about this a lot if one were to meet me in person) is “With great power, there must also come great responsibility,” from Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben. I love this quote so much because I think that my mind is a great power. I feel as if I have a responsibility to use it to help others. It may not be the Asperger’s making me intelligent, but I still feel this way. Even now, I think that if I didn’t have Asperger’s, my entire life and personality would be different. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Kerry Magro, an international motivational speaker and best-selling author 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 who travels around the country speaking about his journey on the autism spectrum at your next event by contacting him here.