This guest post is by Melanie Angelique Martinez a young woman on the autism spectrum who was accepted to College of DuPage. Melanie is applying for our Spring 2018 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 here (the majority of our scholarship program is ran through donors from our community such as yourself).

My name is Melanie Angelique Martinez! I’m an eighteen-year-old senior at Saint Cloud High School. I want to go to college to become an Illustrator or a Graphic Designer. I’m in the SCHS I-Tech program as an Advocate. I also represent my school in the SCHS AP Studio Art program.

Me and my brother Miguel as babies

My fellow classmates making jokes that I couldn’t understand. Most of the third grade didn’t want to be my friend and I didn’t understand why. It wasn’t just me who was bullied for who I was, my twin brother Miguel had the same issue, except it was ten times worse. I was in middle school when my mother told me that the kids in our grade were bullying us because we were born with a disability called Autism.

Autism is a mental condition, that starts at early childhood, that affect the way how they interact with people or the things in their surroundings. At the time, I had no idea what that word even meant so I brushed off the fact that I didn’t understand, and I pretended I knew what she was talking about. My brother had a worse stage of Autism, so he got most of my parents praises and attention. I would always say that he was their favorite because I was jealous of him. Was Miguel the favorite because he’s a boy? Or was he the favorite because he’s the youngest twin? I kept asking those questions to my parents and their response was them giving me a book called, “Rules”. The book was kind of like, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, because it was a story of a twelve-year-old girl who tells her story of what happened the last weeks of school in the form of a diary. Within her journal entries she mentions her little brother, who coincidently has Autism, and the rules she had made for him so that he can “fit in”. Reading what the girl in the book had to go through with her brother was exactly what I was going through. Miguel having tantrums in the middle of the store and him not acknowledging the people in his surroundings by not using his manners were the many episodes I lived with every day. When I finished the book, I got a better understanding of my brother and his needs. I also felt ashamed of myself thinking why he got all the special treatment and all I got was the dirt. My brother might be different from me, but it doesn’t make me see him as any less than my annoying little brother.

Throughout elementary school I thought I was considered as a “normal kid”. I didn’t have to be put in to the classes that my brother had so I thought I was like everyone else in my class, but I was wrong. Some of my classmates would steal my snacks, take my stuffed animals when I take them to school, and they would make fun of me directly to my face. It made me sad thinking who were my real friends in the class and why would people be so mean to me. I told my parents what was going on at my school and they pulled me over to “have a little talk”. They explained to me that since Miguel and I were twins that we might not look anything alike, but our characteristics were alike. They put the pieces together that basically meant that I also was diagnosed with Autism. I wasn’t sad, but I was shocked. If I had Autism, then why didn’t I turn out to be like my brother? As I got older my Autism would get milder and milder to the point that the only thing that I would be struggling in school with was learning certain things. My brother on the other hand had gotten better with his surroundings and how to handle being in situations. He is still the same little brother as I changed into having a learning disability. Till this day, I keep learning about kids with different types and stages of Autism. None of us will get to experience the same exact thing because, depending on the person, they probably had handled their struggles differently than how I did. One thing that we all have in common is that we aren’t ashamed for what we are and that we stick together no matter what.

Miguel’s and my Autism story might not be a drastic one like how they show stories on TV, but that’s okay. Our story is about learning and accepting who and how we were born. If our story and inspire another then we can change people’s minds of how they view people who were diagnosed with Autism.

-Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.- (2)

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 contacting him here.

We’d also appreciate if you could start a Facebook Fundraiser to support our nonprofit’s scholarship fund! You can learn more about how you can do just that here