This guest post is by Michael Oher a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into SUNY Old Westbury & SUNY Oswego. Michael 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 and how to apply for my scholarship here. 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 here.
My name is Michael Oher, and I am a 21 year old. I am a young adult with high-functioning autism. I am about to complete my Associate’s degree and plan on continuing my education at either SUNY Old Westbury or SUNY Oswego by pursuing a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with Emphasis on Broadcasting and Mass Communications. I was diagnosed at the age of ten with Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, PDD-NOS, OCD, Trichotillomania, and Tourette’s Syndrome.
I have many hobbies such as model railroading, writing, and being creative. I run a professional-like internet radio station out of my living room that plays all the hits of the nineties, 2K, and today, and built it from the ground up. I self-host the Information Technology infrastructure required for it and additionally single handedly setup and run the station from an information technology standpoint.
I also run a production company that has produced multiple short films as well as many short videos. I first got involved with producing in elementary school and by the ninth grade, I had three short films under my belt that I had produced, directed, written, and edited.
As a student with autism in a mainstream education setting, I have experienced adversity in working to achieve my educational goals. Each time I have faced such adversity, I have overcome it with the help and support of the network of people that I have built over time. Even though I am a student with high-functioning autism, I choose to not let this define me and instead choose to be defined by the content of my character.
I love going to school and have always succeeded academically however there have been times where staff have not always been helpful. When teachers are not willing or able to understand that autistic students are not always in control of their behavior it is detrimental to the success of the student in that classroom environment. This creates a toxic learning environment where the teacher can slowly turn the class against an individual student which is both unfair and unprofessional. This causes the student to become fearful which in turn leads to high levels of stress for the student only making the student’s behavior worse which cause further retaliation and in turn, further stress and this unending cycle continue until either the student no longer returns to class or the teacher works to understand the student’s issues and need so that he or she may achieve success.
There are unfortunately very few ways to remedy such issues. Short of going to administration, the only real solution is to hope that the teacher is WILLING to be informed on the issues of a student and the way to handle that student’s issues. Oftentimes, however, in my experiences, if someone doesn’t understand the issue of autism they will not be open or receptive to learning about it and being informed of how they are acting incorrectly. The perfect example of such is a few teachers at my current institution, I am in a rather small department with only about five teachers, three of which believe that I hide behind autism as a way to skirt responsibility for my own actions which is as far from the case as is humanly possible. Regardless these teachers have continually retaliated against me for the past two years making my life a living hell in every way they can as often as they can.
The administration has unfortunately not been very helpful in resolving the issue. Yet I work my hardest each and every day to try to enlighten each of these individuals. I have not been able to as of this time, however, I will continue trying until the day that I graduate. For the next student who has the issues that I have may not be as willing or able to defend him or herself against the injustices of a system that is clearly stacked against them and is setting them up for failure. For my part, even though it has been a challenging two years, I am currently on track to graduate with my Associate’s Degree at the end of this semester. Despite the adversity I have faced, my plan is to attend SUNY Old Westbury or SUNY Oswego to pursue a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts With Emphasis on Broadcasting and Mass Communications, where I will undoubtedly face many new challenges and obstacles to which I will have to overcome.
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.