Mathew Kenslow

I am proud to have been a part of two Arts & Learning’s original plays back in 2006. In fifth grade, I started out with a couple of small parts in “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” followed by Prince Charming in “Cinderella” that summer. This had been a memorable, unforgettable experience, imbued with the excitement of performing and the camaraderie of the fellow actors and directors.

In the years following Arts & Learning, I went on to graduate high school in 2013 and Orange Coast College in 2019 with an Associate of Science degree in chemistry. I published a book when I was twenty-three to help the world in understanding Asperger’s Syndrome (a mild form of Autism Spectrum Disorder) through my firsthand perspective. It has since earned a couple of awards and received an incalculable amount of reviews and compliments from around the world. Additionally, I became a small YouTuber in 2017, posting various videos from piano playing and photography to offering encouragement and explaining Autism.

I am now a senior at Vanguard University of Southern California and am close in attaining a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. Of all amazingness and serendipity, I am walking down the halls and through the classrooms where we rehearsed at for the two plays I was in. Not only that, but VUSC houses Lyceum Theater on its campus – the very theater we performed Narnia and Cinderella in. I occasionally walk by it and reminisce with nostalgia of all the wonderful and exciting memories that were made back in the day.

Arts & Learning has made an impact on me in allowing me to know that I have the capability to get up, act, and recite my lines in front of a lot of people. The rehearsals prepared us well and I could not wait to get up in front of all those people. In everything I do, I love to be an encouragement and motivator to others – especially children. I began juggling at elementary schools, starting when I was a sophomore in high school back in October 2010. I use my juggling analogy to encourage them not to give up on their passions. To those who have a physical or developmental disability of any kind, I tell them to neither allow the label to define them, nor slow them down. If I can do everything that I could do, you can too, and more.

Giving back with all of my heart is my passion. Throughout childhood since the age of five, I participated in a faith-based scouting and mentoring program called Royal Rangers. I earned the Gold Medal of Achievement in 2013, which is equivalent to the rank of Eagle Scout. Three days thereafter, I came back to volunteer as a commander and have been a volunteer commander ever since. I have been teaching and mentoring a plethora of men from ages five to seventeen ever since, and hundreds to thousands of Royal Rangers worldwide.

“During rehearsals for a play I was in, back in 2006, I was practicing with some of the other cast members on one of the songs…I was standing toward the bass end of the piano and was shadowing the pianist’s [Debora Wondercheck’s] skill of playing…The play was Cinderella, and I played Prince Charming…I learned how to dance the waltz.”

-Juggling the Issues: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome (2020), page 29. (Mathew Kenslow)