This guest post is by Joey Martini, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and will be attending University of North Texas. Joey is applying for the Spring 2019 Making a Difference Autism Scholarship via the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference. You can read more about the organization and how to apply for our scholarship here. You can help our scholarship program continue to help these students by making a donation to our scholarship fund here (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!).

My mom has always been there for me from the beginning. Since I was little it was very apparent that I was on the spectrum, so my parents didn’t get me diagnosed up until now. Back then I was a horrible kid. I lashed out at least three times a week. I nearly got thrown out of my after school program, as well as every summer day camp I went too in elementary. I don’t remember much from back then, but I do know I didn’t have many real friends. I was constantly bullied and left out of recess activities because no one wanted me. Despite all this, my mom loved me with everything. I find it hard to portray any emotions with anyone, and it pisses me off the most when I can’t even tell her how much I love her. Even now as I type this, I can’t help crying. I hate myself for not telling her more often. She is the one person who truly cares about me to the point where she checks up on me every single night. She even remembers more about my crappy childhood than I do myself. Whenever I get yelled at by my coaches because I can’t measure up to the standards of normal people because my clumsiness and anxiety, she tells me “You did a great job”. No matter how bad I do, she always encourages me to do better.

In sixth-grade I was tired of being bullied and decided to close myself off from everyone. I never spoke, unless spoken too. Even if I did try to speak, I would just mess up the words, stuttering or messing up the order of what I wanted to say and feel embarrassed. But my mom would listen. Even after a long day at work, she would listen to me and help me say what I wanted to say. She is so involved in my life at school it was to the point where she had more friends my age than I did. Everyone liked her and she is the coolest. She made it her business to share my interest, which were sometimes obsessive like my obsession with Legos and hot wheels. Eventually through middle school, I started to feel lonely and depressed. Despite being smarter than the average student, I still didn’t know how to make friends, but my mom helped me. She helped me come out of my shell, and it turned out, I am pretty funny. I wanted to make people smile, so that’s what I did. I learned to be more social as a class clown. Everything I said was to make someone smile. It was always hard for me when my humor did fit the mood of a room. Knowing what people were feeling was hard and it made me uncomfortable when they felt bad, because I never knew and would say something stupid.

However, because of this strategy my mom helped me with, I started making friends. I am in high school now and I have at least twenty real friends. No one bullies me anymore and I am starting to get better at starting conversations with people. My mom told me to make my discomfort my comfort. With this in mind I have gotten better at making eye contact with others, although how long I do is still questionably awkward. I don’t mind talking monotone anymore, even though people will mention it and when it hurts my grades in speech class. My mom has taught me to embrace my faults. I still find it uncomfortable to wave back to people, or make a joke in a wrong situation, and even when I am big and clumsy and knock over a desk trying to get up. I don’t care what other people think about me because my mom loves me for who I am with all my faults. I don’t know how she does all this for just me, but also for my three other siblings every day. So, thank you mom, for everything you have done for me, said to me, and taught me. Because of her I feel normal. People today in my generation are becoming more accepting of me and others like me.

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.