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This guest post is by Regal Noye, a young man on the autism spectrum who was diagnosed with autism at 2 and now has been accepted into University of Tennessee Chattanooga where he’ll be majoring in environmental studies. Regal 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. While many nonprofits have hundreds of volunteers fundraising for their nonprofit, I’m just one guy trying to make a big difference for people with autism via this program. With that I hope you will take a minute to consider making a donation to our scholarship fund here so we can keep it running moving forward (the majority of our scholarship program is ran through donors from our community such as yourself so no matter if you could donate anything, whether it be $5 anywhere up to $5,000 it would be making a difference!).

Hello, my name is Regal Noye. The following is my story about having been on the spectrum.

Ten things I no longer do.

  1. Sits blankly in a corner and refuses to come out and engage with anyone.
  2. Screams when getting a haircut.
  3. Refuses to communicate wants, needs, and ideas.
  4. Fails to have a conversation with a friend or adult.
  5. Disobeys classroom rules.
  6. Refuses to share toys or materials.
  7. Fails to cooperate with peers.
  8. Maintains eye contact with peers and teachers only rarely.
  9. Fails to participate in group learning activities.
  10. Fails to take turns in activities or games.

When I was around two, I was first diagnosed with autism. Between the ages of five and eleven, professionals came to my house five days a week to play with me and teach me. In addition, my mom stayed home to instruct me. The therapists worked with me for over 40 hours a week on cognitive and gross motor skills. Sometimes we engaged in occupational and physical therapy. We had cameras recording my interactions so that I could see myself as others did.

It was hard for me to engage with the staff that came to my house and to do the activities they suggested. For example when I was supposed to be playing with a toy, I might just be cowering in a corner and trying to hide. I was very fearful and there were a bunch of things that I didn’t want to do, such as talking and engaging.

I first entered my local elementary school in 4th grade. I began going half-day and then transitioned to a full day. I wanted to go to school because I believed that if I did, there would be more opportunities for me.

I wasn’t used to the other students and I didn’t know what it was like to be in a structured environment. Keeping myself focused and working on emotional control was a challenge. At first the loud sound of a fire drill bothered me and someone had to escort me outside before it went off. In addition, assemblies were not interesting and often covered topics that I was not comfortable hearing about. But I did find enjoyment in the field trips, field days, and retreats.

Middle school offered new challenges. It was difficult to change classes every 45 minutes, and I ate lunch alone. But I got good grades, and I was on the tech crew.  It was during this time that I learned that I am more academically oriented than socially oriented.

Although in high school I enjoy achieving academically, I’m learning to engage with others, communicate and cooperate. I’ve come a long way from the kid who was afraid of lots of things and not able to talk to anyone. I’m in the National Honor Society and was recently nominated for the Homecoming Court. I am now slowly trying to make friends and let people know who I am by giving myself away.  I know that when I go to college there will be many opportunities to make friends and I’m excited about living on campus.

I’ve come this far and I’m not stopping. In 2018 I represented my high school at the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, held at George Mason University and participated in an internship with the Conservancy of Radnor Township focusing on the health of local streams. Next fall I plan to pursue an environmental studies major and maybe become an environmental engineer, developing solutions to change the way we use the environment so that life on Earth may continue.

From sitting blankly in a corner to entering school, graduating from high school with honors and entering college, my life experiences have shaped me into who I am today because I have always set goals for myself and worked hard to achieve them. The greatest lesson I have learned from my life so far is that no matter where I’ve come from, I can do anything I put my mind to.

Follow Kerry’s journey on Facebook, his Facebook Fan Page, & Instagram!

Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum 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, one of the only professionally accredited speakers on the spectrum in the country, speak at your next event by sending him an inquiry here. If you have a referral for someone who many want him to speak please reach out as well! Kerry speaks with schools, businesses, government agencies, colleges, nonprofit organizations, parent groups and other special events on topics ranging from employment, how to succeed in college with a learning disability, internal communication, living with autism, bullying prevention, social media best practices, innovation, presentation best practices and much more!

We’d also appreciate if you could take a minute to create a Facebook Fundraiser to support our nonprofit’s scholarship fund! You can learn more about how you can do just that here.