My Life With Autism – Benjamin Reif

This guest post is by Benjamin Reif, a young man who is diagnosed with aspergers and will be attending Rowan University in the fall. Reif 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.

On Wednesday, August 23, 2006, I came into this world. I don’t remember much about the moment I was born, granted I knew literally nothing at the time. As I was the first child, my parents were excited about the next phase that has just started. It was a few more weeks until I came home from the hospital for the first time. I couldn’t say a word, but I was happy to be there. But I had no idea what I could do, how to do it, or where my long road was going to take me. I thought everyone my age was the same, just like me: there was nothing I could do that they could not. Little did I know, there was something that made me special.
Until I was 10 years old, I thought I was just like all my friends: a normal, hard-working, and trustworthy kid with a simple life, albeit with some quirks. I was typically one of our class clowns as well. But one night, I stopped thinking like that. I went with my parents to a special therapy appointment, and they told the doctor about what I do, how I act, and who I am. After some conversing, the doctor diagnosed me with Asperger’s Syndrome, aka High-Functioning Autism. I was speechless. For a while, no words came out of my mouth. Needless to say, it was a very quiet car ride home.
Admittedly at first, I didn’t really think it was a big deal. I knew a lot about autism before I realized I was part of the Autism community. I almost felt superior to my friends because I had something they didn’t. I thought I acted just like them, and I was doing just fine. However, once I started middle school, I was surrounded by many new faces. I realized that I didn’t want to be treated like a freak, as I was what some would call an “underdog” during elementary school. Over the course of middle school, I continued to go to therapy, learned more social skills, and became much better at talking to others. It wasn’t always easy, there were several appointments where I would get overwhelmed and upset. I felt like a failure when that happened, like I was never going to be like everyone else. I wanted to fit in so badly.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was devastated to be stuck at home, separated from my friends. But in a way, I was also relieved because it would keep my autism hidden from potential bullies, who were now on my Chromebook screen. 9th grade went faster than one would think, and then when 10th grade started, things began to rapidly improve. I joined my school’s marching band and made some new friends; however I didn’t tell any of them I had autism, and I thought nobody could tell, much to my relief. I had a really successful first 2 seasons. 11th grade came and I continued my band progress, and my third season went really well too. But then there was an important point during my fourth season.
March 18, 2023, was a Saturday. The Indoor Percussion Ensemble had just performed at the high school we were at for the day. After our performance, my friends and I went to the school cafeteria to have some snacks and talk about the results. In the middle of the conversation, one of the snare drum players told me that my brother told him I was autistic, and he asked me if it was true. I was nervous to say anything, but soon I caved in and reluctantly told them it was true. I was so angry and upset at my brother for telling. It was a personal detail that wasn’t his to share. As we walked back to our classroom base, that’s when it really hit me. I started crying in front of all my friends. The 3 seniors took me outside and assured me that my autism changed nothing, and that everything was going to be good. While I appreciated everyone being so nice about it, I was still horrified and devastated now that everyone knew.
As 2023 and the season went on, I stuck with marching band, and I noticed that my friends didn’t really treat me any differently than before. Clearly, they still saw me and Benjamin “BennyBoy” Reif. They still liked me for who I am and even valued me as a person. I was still respected within the community, and I was treated almost like I didn’t have autism at all, which really meant a lot to me. When we went to Wildwood, NJ at the beginning of May, we won the championship, and we celebrated on the hotel roof. It was the most victorious night of my life. I felt like I had really cemented my place in the band, and I felt like I truly belonged with the people who I’m glad to call my friends.
It’s now April 2024 and I’m wrapping up my senior year of high school and my sixth and final season of marching band. I’ve certainly come a long way over my 17 years on this planet, and I think my autism really helped me get there because it made my arc even more satisfying. So, for anyone who has High-Functioning Autism like me, there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, it makes you even more special! I will be starting at Rowan University in the fall, and I know I’m going to do big things there, and surprise myself just like I did in high school.

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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