This guest post is by Vincent Fedorko a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and is attending Webster University studying Speech Communications. Vincent is applying for the Spring 2020 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.
Due to my diagnosis of autism, I was a kid who struggled: seizures, gross and fine motor skills, academics, sports, social skills, processing problems, sensory issues, all of it. Parochial school was packed with tutors, learning consultants, occupational therapy, vision therapy, listening therapy, and the list goes on. Everything I tried to do was a problem, a challenge to overcome. I couldn’t trim my own nails, tie my shoes, cross my midline, write, play sports, and even grade school academics took 3-5 hours a night. I couldn’t be involved with anything that was in prolonged heat because that brought on seizures. My parents read up on spectrum related problems and piece by piece added on the professional help I needed. The tutors and therapies were used to teach me techniques and ways to overcome my struggles. All of the things I learned were very important, but no one could do the work except me. My mom taught me a quote early on that I have used almost every day, “I can, I will and I shall find a way.”
Then one day in August 2013 I walked onto the campus of St. John Vianney High School, and everything changed. My hard work started to pay off. I suddenly found myself swimming on the varsity swim team, earning a solid 4.0, joining clubs, giving hundreds of hours of service, earning the rank of Eagle Scout, being accepted into the National Honor Society, serving as a tour guide for the school as well as an orientation guide, becoming captain of my swim team, being chosen for the top award given both my junior and senior years…and throughout all this earning consistent straight A’s without missing a single day of high school. Up through eighth grade I never would have believed I could experience such confidence and success. Nothing came easy, not even the simplest of classes, but all of the techniques I had learned suddenly started to make sense. I became a student of structure, repetition and determination. I sat front and center in my classes, I worked for every single point or extra credit given to make up for the fact that I didn’t always do very well on tests. I took full advantage of the opportunities my Individual Education Plan offered me, like extra time on tests, and even testing being done verbally, rather than always eye to hand. I always study first, get plenty of sleep and give up on nothing.
Much of what I have learned about how to handle the challenges of autism has come from my family and the different tutors and programs my parents have gotten me involved in. As I look back, it has been a puzzle of a lot of different pieces and people I have worked with, as well as the tools each one taught me. I spent hours and hours every week growing up with so many different tutors and therapies. Everything I was taught and given worksheets on never seemed to help significantly. Suddenly in high school I found that everything I had learned had been buried and now seemed to come to the surface. Now everything made sense. My vision was clear and I knew what I had to do to help myself. I started to learn how to put all the pieces together to help myself succeed. Everything is still hard, but I have confidence now in my abilities. I am not afraid to ask for help, and I know that I never give up until I finish and do well.
I have a tremendous amount of confidence and fearlessness because I have climbed my own mountains and overcome my own obstacles, big and small, over and over again. I know now that I can achieve anything, and I work without stopping until I do. The quote my mom repeated with me over and over and over again when I was just in second or third grade has become the voice in my head, “I can, I will and I shall find a way?”
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.