This guest post is by Alessio Edmondo Pasqual a young man on the autism spectrum who is attending Hudson County Community College. Alessio 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.
My name is Alessio Edmondo Pasquali. I come from Bayonne, New Jersey. I am 23 years old and my highest level of interests are related to forms of media (e.g. movies, television shows, video games, mobile devices, and computers). These interests of mine have shaped me into who I am today, and while at first it came with low points in my life, eventually, I was able to find many high points out of my interests as well.
When I was between 5 and 6 years old, I started experiencing patterns I would not have come to expect in my behavior. It all started when I was watching a movie. I was just quietly sitting on my couch and watching the movie like a normal human being. And then, as the movie ended things started to change. During the end credits of this movie, the bloopers were playing onscreen. And while the bloopers were playing, one of the lines played during them stuck in my head, but not in the way one would think. As that line stuck in memory, I started repeating it to myself, repeatedly. One time, my repetition of the line attracted the attention of my father who thought the line I said was serious. When I told him that I didn’t mean it and that I was just repeating it from a movie, he seemed to be fine with it, at first. But, as I continued repeating that same line over and over again, that’s when my father started to believe that something was wrong with me. I didn’t want to believe him at the time, since I was too young to understand. But that moment was when I realized something had happened to me: my diagnosis of autism started to kick in. And, from that day, my life would change forever.
In the years following that, I’ve had a lot of challenges as I’ve dealt with my high-functioning autism. One such difficulty was making friends at my one of my old schools. There were students I know who I never knew how to tell how I felt about them or how to keep them as friends. In turn, I was bullied for my inability to make friends and constantly had objects thrown at me. If things couldn’t be worse than that, my parents and my brother began to worry about me and felt I was becoming too weird for them to deal with and that my “weirdness” would get me nowhere in life. For a few years, I was starting to believe they may be right and that I was heading towards a downward spiral in my life. Then, in January 2010, a new door opened in my life that would take me out of the darkness and into the light.
In January 2010, I started attending a private school in Dover, NJ (before we moved to Denville, NJ in January 2014) called Celebrate the Children. In this school, I met many people who are on different degrees of the autism spectrum. There were people I could be friends with and there were others who were a little too much of themselves to be my friend, but when I went to Celebrate the Children, I eventually found a place where I could make friends and use my passions with confidence. I even found people, students and staff members, that had the same interests and passions I had, and I was able to become good friends with them.
Eventually, after spending 8 years at Celebrate the Children, I was able to put my interests and passions to better use. When I think of repeating from movies or TV shows, I decide to use them as if I’m in a comedy show, using impressions of them to make jokes. Some of them can be funny and some of them look like I’m trying too hard to be funny. But I believe many of my friends, family members, and close acquaintances see me as funny, inside and out. And, when someone asks me when a certain movie is coming out, I not only tell them when it’s coming out, but also what it’s about, who’s starring in it and the technical aspects of the movie’s crew. When they hear me talk about it, people marvel at how much knowledge I have about movies that are yet to come out.
In conclusion, when looking back at how far I’ve come, I’ve learned three important lessons that I hope people take when they read this story of my life. The first lesson is to never be afraid of who you are and what you love. The second is to be proud of what makes you who you are, quirks and all. And, the third lesson is that no matter what other people think they can do with you, you can forge your own path. When we think about all those lessons, we can find out that it is cool to be ourselves.
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.