Dreams, Goals and Determination Through the Eyes of Autism.

This guest post is by Brooke Brockman, a young woman who is diagnosed with Aspergers and attended Central Community College at the Hastings campus since August of 2022. She will be graduating with an associate degree in media arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design on May 10, 2024.  After, she will be transferring to Hastings College this fall to obtain her bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in writing. She has been accepted to Hastings College and will begin college there this August. Her personal goals for college include being an excellent student, being involved in the campus life of the college, and being involved in the community. Her personal goals after college include having a career and being a productive member of the community where she lives. Brockman is applying for the Spring 2024 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 here. Autistics on Autism: Stories You Need to Hear About What Helped Them While Growing Up and Pursuing Their Dreams, our nonprofit’s new book, was released on March 29, 2022, on Amazon here for our community to enjoy featuring the stories of 100 autistic adults.

My parents had been trying to find out “what was wrong with me?” since I was four years old. I was slow to talk, wanted to play by myself, and had my little Cinderella figure that I would carry everywhere with me, and the list continued. Every health care provider my parents took me to just kept saying, it is a delay not a disorder. Finally, in sixth grade, after more testing by a psychologist, my parents got the news they had been dreading. Your daughter is autistic. My parents were sure I would live with them the rest of my life.

However, I had dreams. I had goals. I had determination. And no label was going to stop me from reaching my dreams and goals. In the spring of 2022, I graduated from high school with honors. However, I still think my parents, my extended family, my teachers and my friends all questioned whether I could make it in college or if I could even live on my own, with my autism diagnosis. I hate dream and goal crushers and I was going to prove the world wrong with my determination.

I decided the community college setting would be most appropriate for me. Therefore, I enrolled to attend Central Community College. Living in the dorm with a roommate did not come without challenges, however, it gave me the opportunity to explain some of my issues with autism to her. She taught me a great deal about giving and taking. I was very proud of myself that I learned to live independently. At this point, I didn’t have a car at college, so I stayed at the dorm many weekends. Therefore, I became independent cooking, cleaning, doing my own laundry and the list goes on. I had already reached my goal of being able to live independently.

College academics stressed me out in the beginning. My autism often causes me to be stressed which turns into tears which turns into a major panic attack. That first semester in college taught me a lot about how to deal with college with autism. I learned that I had to find “my people” for every situation. I quickly became an advocate for myself. This stress of college academics was not going to crush my dreams and goals. I was determined to make this work!!! I put every professor’s email and phone number in my contacts. I would reach out to them with any academic question. Amy, the housing director could solve any problem dealing with the dorms, my roommate or life. The writing coach was my lifesaver. I would write a paper, send her the draft and then we would go through it together. And if none of these people could solve my problem, Stephanie, at disability services, could always solve it. She was my ally when I had trouble explaining what I was advocating for. Last, but not least, security is a great resource when you too quickly shut the door to your dorm room and your keys are inside. I finished that first semester with a grade point average of 3.34. I was well on my way to reaching another goal of getting an associate degree in media arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design.

However, there were not just academic challenges. My biggest challenge with my autism has always been my social skills. I have always struggled with friendships. Sometimes this is making friends. Sometimes this is keeping friends. That first semester of friendships was so hard. I made a good friend, named Jess. Jess didn’t go to class like she should, and the college wouldn’t let her come back second semester. Then, I made another friend, Anna, in the second semester. School wasn’t for her, and she quit. Then I found Delaney, who was also on the spectrum, and we became good friends instantly. Yes, I had classmates who were good friends, but I wanted more than just Delaney. So over the summer, I decided I was going to have to make a conscientious effort to step “outside of my comfort zone” and try to be more social and make more friends. Brielle, McKenzie, Summer, Blade, Zoey, Amy, Aspen and Hayden are a few of the friends I have made this past year. And they aren’t just casual friends. I have gone to the movies, out to eat with these friends and Saturday shopping trips. I have learned a lot about myself, my social skills and friendships. Prior to college, I was so insecure in friendships, that I would smother friends with texts, phone calls and messages. Friends don’t want to be smothered. Therefore, I make a list of things I want to ask or tell my friends. When I have at least four things on my list, I text, call or message. College has taught me the lifelong skill of improving my social skills and how to maintain friendships, reaching yet another goal.

In conclusion, I continue to have goals, dreams and determination. However, those goals and dreams have changed since that first day I stepped foot in August of 2022 on that College campus. I was only going to go two years to school, three at the most. However, I have not let my autism get in my way. I am graduating May 10th, 2024, from Central Community College with an associate degree. However, I set another goal, another dream. I am going to pursue my bachelor’s degree in English this fall at Hastings College. Everything has transferred from my community college degree, therefore, in two more years, I will have my bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in writing that will go perfect with my graphic design. However, I also have dreams and goals of being a book editor or an English teacher. My diagnosis of autism and my college experiences thus far have given me determination and made me realize that I will not allow anyone to crush my dreams or goals.

Follow my journey on Facebook, my Facebook Fan Page, Tiktok, Youtube & Instagram.

What happens to children with autism, when they become adults? | Kerry Magro | TEDxMorristown (youtube.com)

My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum. I started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue 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.

Autistics on Autism: Stories You Need to Hear About What Helped Them While Growing Up and Pursuing Their Dreams was released on March 29, 2022 on Amazon here for our community to enjoy featuring the stories of 100 autistic adults. 100% of the proceeds from this book will go back to our nonprofit to support initiatives like our autism scholarship program. In addition, this autistic adult’s essay you just read will be featured in a future volume of this book as we plan on making this into a series of books on autistic adults.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles