This guest post is by Jacob DiBiase a young man on the autism spectrum who has been accepted into Binghamton University studying Environmental Biology. Jacob 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 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 here.
Autism is often looked upon as a disability where people think that you lost your chance for success. Many fail to realize that many forward-thinking people may have been on the autism spectrum. These people include Mozart, Einstein and Jefferson. These people have influenced history despite their suspected disorder. Many fail to recognize that autism lays on a spectrum and it is not a cookie cutter disorder. Some may spend their entire lives uttering a few words and others live life with only a few challenges. Despite that I am high-functioning, I have overcome so much to become the person who I am today.
It is very likely that I have a family history of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Despite that my father, my brother, my grandfather and more family members show similar characteristics of what I deal with, I am glad to have a definitive diagnosis because I can receive the help that I need.
I often struggle to make close-knit bonds with friends because I have social anxiety that stems from the disorder. I also have problems that tend with the inability to focus for a long time when I am dealt with distractions that come from sounds, people around me, or pretty much anything else. I have slower processing speed which inhibits my ability to think on the spot. This is a problem because I have to think on the spot while operating a motor vehicle as well as many other dangerous things.
I initially was tested back in 2004 because I had problems talking and walking not to mention that I had problems looking away from my ceiling fan. When I was first diagnosed, my doctor told my mother that I had the chance of being nonverbal for the rest of my life. My mom was devastated but she never lost hope. Before and after the diagnosis, I went to Early Intervention up until I was 3. Then I spent the next 2 years at a pre-school that accepts students with a wide range of skills and learning needs with the emphasis on inclusion. I spent the next 3 years expressing my needs by either grunting or gesturing then one-word phrases which led to the beginning of simple sentences during the summer before Kindergarten.
For the next few years, I seemed like an ordinary Elementary school child except that I saw a Physical Therapist, a Speech Therapist and an Occupational Therapist as well as going to a separate classroom to take tests. As I progressed through Elementary school, I graduated out of both Occupational and Physical Therapy. But I stayed in Speech therapy because I had a speech impediment and I needed to continue to work on social skills strategies.
As middle school was approaching, I was dealt with the news that I was being redistricted to a middle school where I knew very few people. Middle school was rough because I came into it knowing relatively nobody. For two years, I sat isolated at the lunch table with a couple of people at the other side. My only saving grace of middle school is that I participated in orchestra, modified swimming and Boy Scouts because there were members from all the middle schools which led to me staying in touch with friends from elementary school. I often would wish that they were at my lunch table with me when I was upset. But in 8th grade, I made a friend which escalated into a full lunch table. I probably could have tried to make friends with people over those two years with but I had issues with my verbal and social skills. I learned from that experience that I have to get outside of my comfort-zone. At this I seemed like an outcast because thought that I was alone because I stuttered. People would tend to make fun of it and this led to me not wanting to participate during classes. My outlet for these pent-up issues was focusing on my schoolwork. As a result, I had gotten high honor roll all throughout middle school.
High School is a huge step for everyone but It was especially a big step for myself because it is a time where you have to be independent and advocate for yourself. It is difficult to advocate for myself because I often don’t know what to say or how to say it because I feel so uncomfortable. I tend to cower and act timid which is the opposite of what you should do to advocate for yourself. My biggest problems that I have had to overcome in high school are my issues with focusing as well as organization.
During long lectures, I often have to refocus myself numerous times or I will not learn the material. It is hard to focus in classes because my mind focuses on unimportant things such as a test in a different class or what I want for dinner. My focus is the most inhibited at home. When I am set on a task, I have to get it done before starting a new one. I also procrastinate until the last minute on things because I lose focus and I am quite disorganized. These distractions have not been setbacks. I am just a little different.
These problems have never stopped me. They may have slowed me down but I believe that they have helped me progress and to be the person that I am today. I have dealt with these things by fighting each individual battle with my supporters helping me when I am in need.
Join us for our Free Workshop “The Transition To Adulthood For Those With Autism” on 4/30 at 8PM where I’ll be talking about topics such as our autism scholarship program – Register at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vofL2kFjRBCSHGJ5JcfyVA
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.