This guest post is by Camden Greenhalgh a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into Brigham Young University. Camden 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.
I have autism, but I am not defined by it. There are times that feel I’m incapable, and it’s often hard to fight this perception, but I find that I’m generally not limited by such a belief. Typically, structure is where I thrive, and I have found that I can be very successful in a university setting with the structure that environment provides. I work hard to get my assignments done on time, I attend meetings and events that I find interesting, and I make time for my hobbies. In all, I believe that I try using my past success to overcome detrimental beliefs.
When I allow myself to focus on my weaknesses, the worst I get from such thoughts and beliefs is frustration and sometimes self-hatred. This obviously doesn’t do me any good! Thankfully, I tend to bounce back quite easily, usually by talking with someone about it or just taking time to calm down. Subconsciously, I do hold myself back at times. But I have tried to not allow myself to be limited by my diagnosis. While there have been times that I have gotten frustrated, I always remember what I’ve accomplished so far. This gives me courage to keep moving forward. So while autism is a part of me, I don’t allow it to define me.
My challenges with autism have led me to understand that I don’t have to do it alone. I have found that seeking support for my difficulties has been very effective, and much support has come from family and friends. They have deeply supported me in every part of my life and have often given me encouragement and advice, all of which has proven invaluable. I’ve also received support from psychologists, who have helped me with my social skills and anxiety. They have given me good advice on how to better deal with my challenges and how to move forward in life. Personally speaking, I have frequently pushed myself through my challenges and setbacks. This mostly stems from my sheer grit and asking for help when it was needed. When I was in high school, I was part of a robotics club and a few other groups. Being part of these groups helped me socially and with feeling involved. I often find it difficult to be motivated if I don’t have a goal or task given to me. But by creating a goal or task I’d like to accomplish or by asking for help from a friend or family member, I’ve found much success.
Before COVID-19, all of my classes met in person. I could go to the labs and get help as well as meet with my TA’s in person. Then suddenly, all of my classes went all online, because of the pandemic precautions. Changing midway through the semester was really difficult! But, rather than getting angry at the situation and quitting, I was determined to figure out this new system. I read and re-read emails, reached out to my professors and TA’s, and made time to attend online lectures and other meetings where I could get help. Taking these steps helped me finish the semester successfully, even though there were times when I didn’t feel like working because there was so little structure. By making and fulfilling goals, I was able to finish what I started, and I feel proud of what I was able to accomplish during this challenging time.
Getting help when I’ve needed it is something I learned at a young age. Last year, I took a statistics class. When I struggled, I knew I needed to get support. I didn’t do well in the beginning, so I sought help from tutors and TA’s. I ended up doing very well later on and got very good grades in the class! Ever since I was in high school, and throughout the rest of my schooling, my experience has been different from others. I have had to work much harder than most others to get the same results. For instance, a physical science class I took was quite difficult, and I had to work very hard, likely more so than others, to receive good grades.
However, this same experience helped me realize that I can achieve anything in spite of my struggles with autism. I was homeschooled for most of my pre-university schooling, and this greatly helped me adapt and grow, and it prepared me well to attend a local community college during high school. I’m starting to find that if I keep moving forward and surround myself with people who can support me, I will succeed. It’s never really been easy, especially with the social and academic difficulties, but I’ve done quite well in spite of them.
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.