This guest post is by Ethan Riewski, a young man on the autism spectrum who was accepted into Oklahoma State University, University of Arkansas, and LeTourneau University. Ethan 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.
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 Ethan and in 7th grade, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. People have asked me how they think my disability would affect how I would or would not succeed in college. I find this question very interesting because I assume most people don’t even know I have a disability. I do not use this disability as a crutch and function throughout my day as a teenager that is going through adolescence.
According to my parents, it all started in Kindergarten on my first day where my parents sent me off to school and when there were tasks that were overwhelming, I hid under my desk and wouldn’t come out. I also destroyed papers and materials that were in the classroom and scared a few other classmates. My parents were as surprised as the teachers as they never noticed an issue at home. My parents decided that this was out of their abilities to handle and got me tested. It was determined that I had anxiety and ADHD at the time where it was treated with medicine. After first grade, my family moved to Texas from Chicago for my mom’s work. I continued to have issues where I was suspended many times and struggled to make friends. My parents tried their best and over the years continued to get me help with doctors. In 7th grade, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The reason I said the question, about how I will function in college, is interesting is that my experience over the years is much more different than how my parents have told me what happened. I have been able to be successful academically and have grown in many ways. I have been able to retain a job, complete school in a general classroom, and now virtually due to the pandemic, and socialize with friends every week for Dungeons & Dragons.
What makes it amazing is that even though I have had a lot of issues with school prior to 9th grade, I have grown so much to where nobody seems to know that I have a disability. I must work on many things much harder than typical teenagers, but that has made me who I am.
I always had a love for video games and the process of how to make and market them, for instance, my favorite video game series Pokemon this game has interested me because you can play it casually or competitively I always wonder how the franchise has always been so popular was it the marketing or gameplay?
This has fascinated me because my goal in life is to become a video game developer. I have learned that failing is not the end because of video games like Mario and DarkSouls this is because in Darksouls and Mario you fail but you can always retry with more experience to help you. In games like Celeste, I have learned that you must embrace the good and the bad to improve and prosper because in Celeste the main character Madeline is climbing a mountain all the while she must fight Part of Her a personification of her demons at first Madeline rejects Part of Her but it comes back to bite her when she almost reaches the top then Part of Her throw her all the way back down the mountain, but when Madeline embraces Part of Her she made it to the top of the mountain.
The reason I want to be a video game developer is to help people learn that there are people that understand them and can be there for them in my own way.
If you look at the Ethan, that I was up to middle school, compared to how successful I have been in high school, you would be amazed at the differences. I thank my parents every day for the effort, time, and emotional support they have given me over the years as that truly has made the difference.
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.