This week was exceptional. On Monday the nonprofit I head up, KFM Making a Difference, announced the inaugural scholarship winner for our Making a Difference for Autism Scholarship. The day after that was my 25th birthday. The day that has stuck out for me though was what happened yesterday. You see, yesterday was my last day of classes for my Master's Degree at Seton Hall University. Even though I don’t technically receive a degree until our May graduation, this moment has been filled with a great deal of excitement.
The road ahead couldn’t be more intriguing. I have no clue what the world has in store for me next and as much as it’s scary, it’s interesting to see where I can go from here. The constant that I’ve had for the past 21 years has always been being in some form of schooling. Now as an autistic adult, I take my Master of Arts degree in Strategic Communication into a world that hopefully will be accepting of who I am and what I can do.
This post’s message is focused on what I wish for every autistic individual and that is for them to one day get to feel the rush of getting their first paycheck. Unemployment numbers are at an all-time high today but I would go to bat for a large chunk of our community. A few weeks back I remember being swarmed by paperwork for school but receiving a few emails from young adults with autism asking for a quote or a recommendation. I posted my reactions on my Facebook page saying:
“Many autistic individuals growing up go above and beyond … every day to get themselves to progress to the point where they can make job opportunities open for themselves when they get older … there is far more reward than risk in hiring these individuals and companies should come to realize this in 2013 and beyond.”
I really believe and stand behind these words. There is so much I want for our community that I hope will bring a better future for me as well. With everything going on I can sometimes withdraw and isolate myself, but with the New Year comes new hopes for changing that.
I want to be there for us and I want to help employers see the impact we can make. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are countless issues out there which need to be discussed for autistic adults besides employment and I promise to try my best to be there as much as I can to help us pursue our goals. The one thing I refuse to ever give up, as much as this world may change now, is advocating for us always.