This guest post is by Connor McCormick, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into Oklahoma State University and Abilene Christian University where he’ll be majoring in Computer Science. Connor 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.
I was nonverbal until I was four years old. I don’t remember much from that long ago, but I do find it funny that my first word after years of silence was “chip.” I loved snacks and watching Cartoon Network. My mother found an ABA therapist that used my favorite things to finally speak. I struggled with school for many years. I found it very upsetting when my schedule would change, I’d have a different teacher, or my mom would drive a different way to school. I was in a special needs preschool program, but my teacher thought I was ready to be in a regular kindergarten classroom setting, so I started inclusion at 5 years old.
Elementary school was awkward. I couldn’t feel pain like other children, but at the same time, I was very uncomfortable when anyone would touch me without my permission. I loved Godzilla, Ghostbusters, and Mario and didn’t understand why other people would get mad at me for talking about them all the time. At the age of 10, my parents divorced and I moved from Texas to New York City with my mother and siblings. At first it was scary, but soon, I realized that I was celebrated for being different. I had friends for the first time in my life and they thought I was cool. I was successful in NYC. I performed at Carnegie Hall with my school, performed theatre with Rosie’s Theater Kids, and even landed a couple of roles on network television shows.
Four years later, we moved back to Texas. My mother wanted to give me the opportunity to play football and learn to drive. It was hard moving back in the middle of Junior High. Everyone already had their friend groups established and I was the weird kid from up North. I started playing football in 8th grade and I found it to be good way to channel my frustrations and I was good at it. I stumbled with my grades. I tried, it was just very hard. In 8th grade, we attended a career fair to pick our path for high school. I was advised I should attend a trade school instead of college. I was devastated because my goal was to attend a four year university.
High school started and I found my place in Choir and Football. I met with my advisor and decided on a S.T.E.M. pathway instead of trade school. I battled with depression and anxiety throughout the first year and a half of high school, but I pushed through. During the second semester of my Sophomore year, I realized I needed to make a dramatic change and take control of my life. I didn’t let the disappointment from my father being absent affect me anymore. I started improving my grades and signed up for dual credit college courses on my own.
When I started my Junior Year of high school I weighed 330 lbs. at 6’4”. I worked hard eating 6 meals a day of high protein and working out 7 days per week and dropped 80 lbs. in four months. I have been working consistently to build muscle and improve my stats for football. I’m back up to 275 and stronger than ever. I have been training during school and after school with my team, in addition to weight lifting on my own and training with an offensive lineman from Midwestern State University. I am actively working on being recruited to play football in college and was recently accepted into Abilene Christian University and Oklahoma State University. I feel very strongly that I am not defined by my autism and can reach any goal I set for myself if I work hard enough. I use my strength in football, my voice in choir, and my unique way of thinking in school to give me a competitive edge.
Never stop believing in yourself. The sky is the limit!
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.