This guest post is by Cameron Green, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into Marshall University. Cameron 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 story is very different. Social skills like eye contact and starting conversations that come naturally to others had to be taught to me and practiced on a regular basis. This is because I have a social disability known as autism.
I was diagnosed with autism when I was three. I was told, that back then I didn’t play with others and I would get upset whenever there was a change in my daily routine. I actually didn’t talk until I was 4-years-old and there would be times when my mom would have to hold me really tight because I would try to bang my head on the kitchen tile or wall. I had texture and temperature issues with food. so I had only selected things I would eat.
Chicken nuggets were one of the foods I would eat for lunch. To get me to play with others, my mom hired a specialist called a “Floortime” therapist. The therapist would come to my house every week for 2 hours and try to teach me how to play with others. I remember that she would try to run her car alongside mine and ask me questions. When I was in pre-school through grade school my mom would tell me Social Stories.
These are stories that would help me be more “flexible” when it came to doing something new. Because my mom found it was a struggle for me to not be first in line, she would tell me a story at night. About how it was ok if I wasn’t first in line and that I may not get the seat in the car that I wanted.
Throughout my years in school, my teachers also helped me learn various skills because I had an IEP. In first grade, I would rock in my chair which was disruptive to people in the back of me. So my teacher outlined my desk and chair with duct tape. This was a simple way to help me learn the first steps in keeping my body in a certain area. In middle school and High school, I would work on starting conversations, keeping my body in the group, and listening skills.
At 10 years old, I got really sick as if I had the flu. My mom took me to the hospital because I hadn’t stopped throwing up for three days and was having stomach cramps. While in the hospital, I learned that I had Type 1 Diabetes and I had gone into ketoacidosis. While in the hospital, my mom and I were taught how to count carbs, and inject insulin. We saw lots of different doctors and specialists and continued frequent check up’s after I was able to go home. At first, it was really hard for me to get used to the changes. When I was in the hospital, my fingers were covered in bandaids as a result of getting them pricked. I thought after a while I would no longer have to have my blood tested. When I realized I would have to keep pricking my fingers, I got scared and started screaming to were four doctors had to hold me down. I’ve come a long way since then. I learned how to test my blood, inject myself with insulin, count carbs, and log all that information in a booklet, all without assistance.
I think social disorders are harder to understand than something like diabetes, where you can see the sickness. People can think you are strange and treat you differently from normal people. An example of this was during my Freshman year. I signed up for a specific class. I had already taken all my required art classes in middle school so I was doing this purely for fun.
However, when I took the class it was anything but fun. I felt that I was singled out because of my disability. If there was a group project, I was forced to work by myself. If we were using arts and crafts to make a set for the theater, he wouldn’t let me use rulers or scissors and I would have to work on the project at home. One of the more hurtful moments was when I was singled out during the preparation for one of the school activities I was involved in.
Despite the experience, I had a lot of successes in High School. I joined a robotics team called the Cy-Borgs, which participates in the First Robotics Competition (FRC). I helped my team by engineering or building the robot. I also have been taking a weekend class called 3D Cadmasters where I learned how to do CAD and programming as well as working on circuits. The instructor had me tutor younger kids in his classes. I entered into a competition called the Technology Student Association (TSA) where students make projects in various categories to be ranked by judges. In 2019 the first year I entered, I won two 2nd place medals at the state level. This year, I was going to state but the competition got canceled due to COVID-19. I have also been an honor roll student in High school.
I spent my entire life working on my disability and I also had to deal with those who would judge or mistreat me because of it. There are skills that I will continue to learn as I get older. Despite these shortcomings, I still have worked hard to be a high achiever and accomplished a lot that I am proud of. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I can’t wait to find out.
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.