This guest post is by Joshua “Jude” Thomas a young man on the autism spectrum who was accepted into the University of South Alabama. Joshua is applying for the Spring 2018 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 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!).

I have come a long way since being on the autism spectrum. My family was able to help me overcome some of my autism challenges by sending me to therapy at a very young age. Occupational, physical, speech and behavioral therapy worked with me to overcome my sensory, processing and speech issues. I believe that if my parents had not sent me, I would still be struggling on many levels.

Despite that, I am still not good in social situations. In my entirety of schooling, I have only made about three close friends. I did not even realize my social problems until my college years when I began to try and interact with people. I believe that the autism in early life severely impeded my social skills. Even now, I am in therapy to help with my social issues and social anxiety. I still slightly struggle with social skills, but therapy has greatly helped me overcome them, and I am already more sociable than I was a year ago.

When I was in elementary school I was not interested in interacting with the other students. I mainly kept to myself and was more interested in reading. I was also very sensitive to sound and touch which contributed to my aversion to socializing. I believe these tendencies stemmed from my autism. Keeping to myself severely impacted my social skill, as I did not practice talking to people at an early age. Later in life, around my early college years when I began to want to socialize, I found that I just could not talk to people. Every time I tried to interact with someone I did not know very well, I would be stricken with severe anxiety attacks. I could not breathe and I was worried that I was acting strangely.

I eventually took up therapy to try and develop my impeded social skills. My therapist helped me see the root of my anxiety and helped me practice talking to people. My therapist found that my anxiety came directly from not wanting to act weird in front of others, and she gave me some exercises to get over my fears. Her assistance helped me overcome my anxiety. Even though I am still working on being more sociable, I believe that I will completely overcome my social challenges in the years to come.

I am thankful to my parents for pushing me to overcome obstacles. My parents really helped me by sending me through the various therapies at a young age. I believe that if I had not gone to therapy at such a young age then my social problems have been more severe. Impeded social skills are a common problem for most children on the spectrum. I am very fortunate that I was helped sooner rather than later. I believe that if we could find autism in children at younger ages, then we could help them better by sending them through the same therapy that I had. If we would help children on the autism spectrum overcome their sensory and speech issues faster then they will have an easier time socializing in school, and many problems they face would go away.

-Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.- (2)

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.

We’d also appreciate if you could start a Facebook Fundraiser to support our nonprofit’s scholarship fund! You can learn more about how you can do just that here