This guest post is by Kaleb Carter, a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into and will be attending Nicholls University in their Bridge to Independence program. Kaleb 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 and how to apply for my scholarship here. I’m trying to make this nonprofit self-sufficient so I can make this my full-time job supporting the special needs community and could use your help so I could also give out more scholarships for students with autism to go to college. Learn more on how you can help our cause here.
My name is Kaleb Carter and I am a senior at Dutchtown High. I am a young adult with autism, which means I can communicate but I can be awkward socially. Thinking back, I’ve always seemed to have trouble getting my point across. Whether it was at a school, playing with others or even at home, I could never get my words out. I even remember one school day, my homeroom teacher brought me to a different teachers classroom. The classroom looked more fun than my other class, but I didn’t quite understand why I was being punished? I also struggled with reading, writing and my memory wasn’t the best. I envied everyone else, only because I wanted what they had. Not cool clothes or ipads. I just wanted a friend. I’ve worked very hard to be where I’m at today! And even though it takes me three times as long to study and make friends, I tell myself I am just like everybody else.
During elementary school, my mom told me I had a hard time learning and following the rules. Because I struggled with communicating I would often get in fights. I would get extremely mad if the teacher told me I got the answer wrong. My dad said he taught me an introduction phrase, for whenever I met someone. I would say “Hello my name is Kaleb Carter, what is your name?” Regardless of what they said my dad said I never knew what to say afterward, so then I would get frustrated and walk away or get in a fight. That got me suspended a lot and I almost got expelled. This made my parents very concerned about my future. My parents never gave up seeking answers with doctors and therapists that they figured out that I was autistic.
My memory is very hazy, so I don’t remember much of my younger years. I remember that my dad was deployed, while I was in junior high. My nana said my communication skills, we’re getting better by junior high but still lacked, in the friend department. I do remember a lot of kids always picking on me for being different. I would defend myself from them but I could never communicate correctly to the teachers that they started the fights. I was suspended several times because I couldn’t communicate. Thinking back I started drawing what the other kids were doing to me. This was the only way I could show the teachers what they were doing to me. Around that time, all I really wanted was my dad to come back home from being overseas!
I was very shy in middle school but in high school; however, I have grown more confident in myself over the years. In 2016, I went to a different high school because the city I lived in had a “1000 year flood” and overnight that made some 75,000 people homeless. Along with our apartment, my high school flooded and took on 8 feet of water. My mom and I moved in with my dad and his family. Sometime before entering the 9th grade, my parents sat me down and we had the “talk” about Autism. My dad said, a new high school would give me a chance to start with a clean slate. Even though I had a million butterflies in my stomach, I got through it day by day. I ignored my shyness and went up to people and started to say ”hello”. It worked! I ended up meeting a bunch of kids that seemed to enjoy who I am. This also brought me to join Allied Health at my high school. Allied Health is a volunteer school program focusing on educating high schoolers in nursing. Because of this I contributed and volunteered for race events and other things in my community. I really enjoy being a member of Allied Health because it gives me self-confidence and a look in the medical field, which looks very interesting. My counselors believe I am confident in communicating on my own and making new friends by myself.
I am like everyone else and know I still have a difficult road ahead of me. Pretty soon, I will be graduating high school and I can’t wait for what my future holds. Once I get to college, I won’t have to feel like an autistic kid with a label. When I graduate college, I want to study radiology because that is how I will make a difference. I want to focus on radiology because I can help a lot of people, by seeing through them like Superman . In the future I want to help cancer patients like my Aunt Janice who recently passed away from lung cancer. Who would’ve thought that a shy autistic kid would beat all odds and graduate on the honor roll while going to college… I DID!!!
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!