How I Overcame Hardships While Living With Autism

This guest post is by Benjamin Luo, a young man who is diagnosed with autism and plans to attend California State University, Los Angeles. Luo 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.

Receiving your driver’s license is a major milestone for any teenager’s life. It seems like there is a series of events that should happen in one’s life, and passing your permit test as soon as possible was reality for many of my peers. But due to my autism, becoming a licensed driver was a challenge. First, I had to pass the written permit test, and that required a lot of focus and attention. In fact, I printed out a great portion of the driver’s manual that I reviewed every single day for a few months. But, I realized that passing my permit and thereafter the driver’s test required more than memorization and focus, but instead it required courage and perseverance.

I started to learn driving in December of 2022, and only just recently passed my behind-the-wheel. I didn’t do it without a lot of help, as my parents had a lot of patience with me. A family friend became my tutor, and sat with me for multiple hours a week explaining to me the concepts of driving and how to take the tests. At first, I already knew that I couldn’t just review by reading the manual, and instead had to be more creative with how I studied. So, we made flashcards and did continuous practice with YouTube videos and hand gestures. The flashcards were the biggest help, but having to really understand each concept was a difficult task. My parents were my biggest supporters during this. When I finally was able to get my permit and start driving, I got a driving instructor. But also, my dad would take me out driving on the weekends so I can have extra practice. Specifically, autism has affected my driving because I have trouble focusing on the road, and because I constantly space out when I have nothing to do. So, I drove very hesitant at first but listened to the criticism my parents gave me. Now, I even drive my mom to school, and then she drives the car back home.

There were many times I was scared or lost hope that I could not do it, but I always took action. I kept trying different ways to achieve my goals. I was able to pass both my written and behind-the-wheel test this past month! Although it was difficult, learning to drive has taught me that hard work and a positive mindset can help me achieve what I thought was impossible.

I realized that this recent experience was similar to many different obstacles that happened in my childhood. Going to school, making friends, and being a member of my high school band were all difficult at first, but I eventually got into a routine and was able to succeed in each of these activities. These daily tasks are still hard, but my perseverance and attitude towards them has changed.

For example, being a member of the marching band continues to be a work in progress. The challenge I have is memorizing difficult music pieces. I can still read music, but I cannot really know what they sound like without hearing it. I would usually listen to recordings of music pieces because if I play them with my instrument, it would sound like I am playing random notes when I am actually practicing. I also need to make sure my instrument sounds good. Catching the tempo in time on the first try is also hard. It reminds me of how at first, I didn’t know how to approach learning to drive, but now I am less anxious about it.

In all areas of my life with all my activities, I try to apply this sort of determination that I’ve learned from these experiences. In my next chapter of my life, I plan on attending Cal State University Los Angeles as a Computer Science major. I will apply the lessons I’ve learned to this next chapter of life. I want to experience dorm life and live with a roommate. Autism has made it hard for me to make a lot of friends, even in high school. So, I hope that college and dorming will give me more opportunities to be more social and talk to more people. I want to collaborate with people, work hard, and make money. Going to college will help me achieve these things by taking classes and being around new people. I want to make my parents proud and overcome more obstacles, as I know now that I can do it.

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 (

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.


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