This guest post is by Jack Knall, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and will be attending University of Saint Joseph. Jack 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!).
When I was almost three years old, I was diagnosed with autism. Being a person with autism has made obstacles in life even more challenging. Challenges, like change and transition, can affect everyone, but they affect me more and are extremely difficult. I have faced and worked through three big obstacles; moving, maintaining good grades, and balancing school responsibilities with my passion for theater.
One of the obstacles I faced halfway through eighth grade, was moving from Simsbury, Connecticut, to Appleton, Wisconsin. It was very difficult for me. I grew up in Simsbury, and knew my teachers and peers well. They understood me, and my needs. When I moved, I had to start fresh at a new school. I had to make all new friends in the middle of the school year. I decided to audition for my new school’s musical, and two months after my move, I was performing in it. Lots of people knew who I was as a result, and I was proud of myself for taking the risk to get involved, meet new people and overcome the challenge of fitting in at a new school.
Maintaining good grades has always been challenging for me. Over time, I’ve learned to use my resources to succeed. Maintaining focus in my classes can be difficult and I am always working on strategies to help. One strategy that works is communicating with my teachers to get their support. There were times, early on in high school, when I was not satisfied with a grade and made an effort to raise it by meeting with my teachers for help. I have an IEP and have learned to advocate for myself, but I know that I still need support to be successful.
Balancing theater and academics is also challenging, but I have learned how to manage. I am rigorously involved in The Arts, particularly music and drama. My high school in Wisconsin had an award-winning theater department. I was in the highest level of choir, and played a variety of supporting roles in 5 of their productions of The Pirate Queen, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Little Mermaid. During my sophomore year, I found myself struggling in English class, while participating in the Spring musical. I decided to not audition for the Spring play, to work on raising my grade, and I did.
Now that I am a senior in high school, I can balance my academics and theater much better. This past Fall, I earned good grades while playing Greylag in Honk, Jr. with a local community theater.
I have worked very hard to address and overcome challenges I’ve had with transitions like moving, maintaining good grades, and balancing class and my passion for theater. Now I know I can do it! I am a very hard working, creative and compassionate student.
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.