This guest post is by Eliana Levi, a young woman on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into the Los Angeles Valley College. Eliana is applying for the Spring 2021 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 name is Eliana Levi. When I was little, I needed help from teachers with talking on the phone, counting money, and wearing different clothes every day: I only wanted to wear yellow. I struggled socially.
Sometimes when my family cooks foods, they smell so strong that I need to wear a mask. Sometimes in social situations where someone is arguing, I start laughing. Around fourth grade, my dad decided it would be a good idea for me to join a social group. I made two friends in a social group named Maya and Tessa. In the social group, we would go around in a circle and talk about our weekend or about school. Sometimes, we would vote on which board game to play, and for birthdays Miss Eileen had us share a snack with the group. When I left the social group, although I was reluctant to have a goodbye party like everyone else, I still decided to have one because it would be good practice. Although the social group ended on a good note, I had a problem in school.
Anytime people would compliment me, I would not say thank you and I would do a strange hand gesture. I would wear knitted skirts and long sleeve shirts with buttons regardless of the weather. People would make fun of me left and right. A few girls said they would not be my friend anymore unless I gave them my favorite snacks. An upside of my school was my science teacher, who taught interactively and let me do things with my hands.
Then, I went to a special education high school called Summit View. I did not feel challenged at Summit View and I made it my personal goal to transfer schools yet again, hopefully for the last time. I had to get all As to prove I could leave Summit View and I met with the IEP team on several occasions to discuss it. In ninth grade, I tried hard to get straight A’s. I would come to my teachers almost every day and ask them what I could do to get a better grade and I would stay up late every night to work with tutors. At the end of the year, I found out that I didn’t make it. I ran into my closet and I started to cry. I desperately wanted to go to a regular school. Then, at the end of tenth grade, I finally accomplished my goal of transferring to Van Nuys High School.
One of my favorite moments from my time at Van Nuys High was getting to show off my dancing skills at the Talent Show. I also really enjoyed my history class since the assignments were creative and allowed us to connect with our classmates. In high school, I really started to thrive. My favorite singer, Charli XCX, told fans to submit clips of themselves doing something so she could include it in her Forever music video. I submitted a clip of myself in a rainy alley dressed in black doing a back handstand. My skills got me into her video. I also branched out and started filming many of my dance videos on youtube under the username HipHopDance Eliana. I found out about a dance class being taught in Hollywood by Jojo Gomez, Demi Lovato’s choreographer for free, and I eagerly went to it.
Over the years, I worked as a babysitter for little kids and played creatively with them. I would cook for them, dance with them, play bubbles or dolls with them, and make playdoh as well as read to them. I also taught dance classes and volunteered by sorting expired food so that homeless people have only good things to eat. I played volleyball and basketball on a team and that taught me good sportsmanship and working with others to reach a goal. At my school, this is my second year at Tassle Club where I can use my writing skills to help students in Cambodia correct their writing. Tassel Club has taught me discipline when it comes to due dates for correcting the essays with a teacher in Cambodia or the president in Tassle. I took an AP English class in 11th grade which taught me to make a rebuttal, make an argumentative essay, and identify metaphors and other methods of figurative language. As part of the AP class, I had to give a presentation about children in foster care and I needed to make sure the audience was captivated. Another challenge was group work but I overcame the challenge of working in a team by making sure everyone’s opinion was considered. It helps to work in a group with everyone by making sure everyone does a certain amount of work that was done by a date we would assign ourselves.
I work hard to deal with obstacles and came out on top. Babysitting, dance, practicing good sportsmanship, and AP English class make me feel ready for college, which is my next step.
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.