This guest post is by Maxim Manwelian a young man on the autism spectrum who was accepted into Wentworth Institute of Technology. Maxim 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 travels have brought me to a place that has impacted me to this day. From the time I was six, I began an exciting tradition with my grandma traveling to Russia during the summer. A small town called Evpatoria on the peninsula of Crimea in the midst of the Black Sea became my magical place.
In this quaint town, my grandma found a clinic to help improve my speech and communication difficulties. While others visited Evpatoria for the beaches and vacation, its meaning was much more substantial to me. When I was very young, I didn’t really have any friends like most kids my age. Part of the reason was I did not know how to talk. Before I took my first trip, I remember working with many teachers, therapists, and other specialists here in America.
But for the summer most services would cease, school would close, and summer programs would give little support to kids like me. With little practice, my family thought I would lose many of the skills that I gained through my hard work. My parents turned to the country they knew the best and where they originated from, Russia, for a solution to my difficulties. During my first year in Evpatoria, I was introduced to a lovely Russian woman who would be my speech therapist for the next ten years. She was an elderly lady, who cared deeply about all disabled children. When she saw me, she tried her best to help me. It did not always work and some improvements would take years.
To this day, I miss her very much. I would see her every day for several hours. I started with almost no language skills. No one could understand my speaking. She would put some metal tools in my mouth to teach my tongue to move in a way required for each sound. One of the letters in Russian I had trouble pronouncing was the rolling “r”. Then, one day, to my surprise I was finally able to make the rolling “r”, sounding like a car’s engine blasting off.
She would practice the alphabet, teaching me spelling, sounds and sentences. We would practice for many days. Then I started to show progress. The most difficult part of practicing was that I got frustrated or tired after many hours. In addition, the clinic that I was going to was offering other general health improvement treatments such as mud bath therapy to improve muscular and bone structure (my body was weak and I did not know how to run well), and mineral water baths that the clinic recommended.
From morning to late evening each day of mine was filled with treatments. I got tired but had to keep going. It would have been too difficult if it was not for my amazing supportive grandma, who I respect and love very deeply, and the friendships and connections I was able to build that last to this day. Slowly but surely, after many summers at this clinic, my speaking improved, I got stronger, and felt better emotionally. My speech therapist still is magical to me.
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.