This guest post is by Amanda Harris, a young woman on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and is attending Chapman University. Amanda 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.
One can stare at a blank page, a blank canvas, a blank world, full of possibilities, poised, to fill that emptiness. As one stares, a vision may begin to manifest itself. I stare at a blank page, full of the potential in my own words, my thoughts, my future. I have so much to say but so much which holds me back. I want to empty myself onto that page, and in the process, find myself. If it was only that easy. The purpose is to fill the empty, a mutual relationship of gaining what is not yet to be, not yet to become but will, and it cannot happen. The same possibilities that may come of the blank page is the metaphor of the blank future full of possibilities, all unknown. That is autism.
It is a great disservice not to understand what is causing the unconscious pain of simply being, living in the world one is not meant to thrive in. The unconscious is the soul which cannot conform to the environment and the population, and the overall world which sustains life The soul yearns to be someplace else; this place is not known; ever so, the yearning is substantial. It is just as great of a disservice to know what the pain has stemmed from and continue to stem from, to lose the ignorance of what never seemed to attract bliss; a disservice knowing this is not temporary, but will follow forever. The mind is never seemingly knowledgeable regarding the humanly functions of the body and soul. That is autism.
The thoughts of mine are somewhat unknown to myself, and the unconsciously conscious words must be analyzed to absorb what has been said or written. It is the intellectual challenge of being awake, of living and being, leading to the fantasy of the lack thereof. Yet, the more I prove to be alive and understand my own being on this planet, the love for my being increases. In the overpowering of love and passion and strength, it is positively overwhelming and I hold on to it quite tightly. I am a human composed of emotions of large strength, and I have received this challenge, not to cope, but to drown myself in this advantage. That is autism.
A fire burning in an individual’s soul does not necessarily imply anger. The fire resembles emotion. Sadness is a forest fire, sudden, gradually spreading the body of its environment; happiness is fireworks, heart bursting at the seams in excitement; fear is a fireplace, crackling, ignited, ready to escape but caged; acceptance and contentment is a candle, soft in heat but able to illuminate when the darkness is strongest. The list may go on and on, but it is the fire which remains important. My brain and heart are on fire, constantly. That is autism.
When I was little, I knew I was different from the other kids, but I didn’t know what. I had lots of friends, yet my personality shifted to whomever I was currently with. I was unconsciously imitating them to connect. I was a very bright kid, classified as gifted and talented, scoring in the 96th to 99th percentile in the OLSAT. I was nicknamed a world class actor, even placing a role as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz–at 9 I memorized 86 lines, in addition to various songs and dance routines. I feel comfortable when I know what to say, what to do, how to act. I fit in. That is autism.
In junior high, I was growing internally and became more aware of the world around me. The world was mean. I began to shut down until I was a shell of my former self, yet I kept acting. High school came and I was struggling to keep and make connections, nobody seemed authentic. Depression and anxiety consumed me, but I thought the feelings were normal. I took in all the pain from the world and kept it bottled up. Adding the stress of perfectionism, an unsafe feeling at home, and the loss of human connection, my fire became stronger than ever, burning my heart to crisps. I got various diagnoses, but never an answer why. I would give anything to know why I struggled with normal things, why I took in the world’s pain, why I was always burning. That is autism.
Art, music, and writing saved me. Kind teachers saved me. I began researching Van Gogh in depth and I have never stopped since. I want to be the epitome of selflessness, I want to change the world, but it only happens one person at a time, so I started with myself. I became engrossed in philosophy which fueled and extinguished my internal turmoil. I spent all my free time finding ways to help others. I am creating an art portfolio which bleeds my story in every piece. I won Chapman’s Contest for Holocaust remembrance in which I grew immensely, truly understanding the world and it’s truths, human connection and love. That is what autism means to me. A fire burning in one’s heart, receiving the strength to make change. After years of researching autism, I was finally tested and diagnosed in February. I am autistic. I will strive to live passionately, to use the fire for good, for rebellion against our static society. Change is often perceived as some great action to be taken, but solutions often start out small—a blank page, a small canvas. The future is small, it will be big, unknown and wonderous. The future is a blank canvas, it is white and reflective of all colors of light. My thoughts are nothing but ink and paint, yet they are nothing short of possibilities.
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.