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The Blind Side

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a rising senior at Seton Hall University, majoring in Sports Management. He started an Autism Speaks U Chapter: Student Disability Awareness on campus to help spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by autism. Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.

As a college student, I can definitely tell you that I go through my own long list of challenges. As someone with pervasive development disorder- not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), a form of autism, those challenges have seemed a bit longer and harder to deal with in comparison to my peers. I’ve always been that individual who, when I see a problem, I wanted it fixed. Not that all problems can be fixed, but if I was in a situation where I know I could change something, I would be the person who did something about it. Recently I have seen myself go through a great deal of struggles both in friendships and work-related incidents because of my difficulty in not seeing the views of others from their perspective. My “Blind Side” as I’ve called it, has put me in some of the most difficult struggles throughout my college experience.

Many people have different names for this theory such as “Mind Blindness” and “Tunnel Vision.” Overall it can be defined as the difficulty of being unaware of what others are thinking. Basically, not understanding the perspective of someone else, not being able to put yourself in their shoes, not being empathetic.  This has led some of my peers to believe that I’m self centered, that regardless of what I’m doing, it’s about me and everyone else has to live with it. I can remember from a self evaluation during my junior year by one of my faculty advisors, I was called out for being “disrespectful to others feelings” and “not a team player.”  Sophomore year my Resident Director where I was a Resident Assistant called me out “for being stuck” and for “wanting to do things in the same manner.” On the other hand these experiences glaringly pointed out, that although I have raised the awareness on my campus of what autism is, and put a face on what a student with autism looks like, many people haven’t a clue of what it entails or how it manifests or affects students. I’ve never used my disability as a scapegoat for whatever tendencies I have or may go through but what do you do?  Follow my own advice? Autism is never a disability unless you let it become one. I take criticism as an indication of what I could work on to become stronger as a person, but in this situation I’ve never felt so blind.

I can’t see where I’m going and I keep going through walls, regardless if I go left, regardless if I go right, regardless if I just go straight down the middle, that wall is hitting me as hard as I’m hitting it. The problem with hitting these walls is that even when you pick yourself up, you still have to go through the pain for making those first few mistakes. Now, if you hit enough of these walls, why would you even consider going through the same pain regardless of how sweet it would be to break through them.

I may be blind for a little while longer, but I won’t back down despite the limitations. They told Michael Jordan he couldn’t fly and he did. They told Jackie Robinson he would never play major league baseball and he did. Although these seem like extreme examples, we all need those to inspire us to be the best we can be. To help myself moving forward I have mainly asked my peers to communicate. I’m a very detailed oriented person so whenever I get feedback, I like to write it down and take time to reflect on what it truly means and how I can go about a positive outcome. Frankly, regardless if I have a blind side, everyone has those “blind spots,” which if no one ever gave them advice on they may never grow. I’m far from perfect but I’m more than less because I’m here, doing what I need to do to better myself and hopefully through these blogs, helping others as well.

(This is one of my Autism Speaks U related blog posts. If you would like to contact me directly about questions/comments related to this post I can be reached at kerry.magro@autismspeaks.org.)

  1. Lori
    November 17, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Kerry you are AWESOME!! I hope you are saving your blogs to eventually put into a book about your life. Someday you might be the “Michael Jordan” of Autism. I hope you know how noble it is of you to share your thoughts and experiences. I am a speech pathologist that works with a large variety of children with autism. I would like to interview you sometime and ask you some questions about your childhood and your educational experiences. Keep up the great work! I can’t tell you how much I admire your acceptance of your “difference” and your fierce determination to find a way to participate in perspective taking that feels foreign and uncomfortable for you. I get the feeling that as you learn more about perspective taking that it will be somewhat like knowing what algebretic formula to use in a certain situation, but not really knowing “why”. I guess once you can accept and have an understanding of this difference in yourself, it will be easier to apply what you have learned to relationships both new and old, with your friends and/or family. However, I think that it is only fair that those who interact with you are aware that you are doing your best and that they need to understand that you will not be able to interpret every single situtuation. Your life should not be a constant lesson of what you didn’t perceive, but a celebration for what you were able to successfully identify. You are a brave, strong, and courageous person who I have NO doubt will leave a positive impression upon the world today and forever more! You have left a huge impression on me, and this is the 1st blog I have read. Many, many blessings of love and light to surround you in peace, joy and balance for a future that will be very bright and happy. Lori

  2. Loramath
    November 17, 2010 at 3:03 am

    Very nice post Kerry, I’m sure you will overcome any problem you might have in the future with this attitude.

  3. Judith Ursitti
    November 17, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. My daughter has Asperger’s and requently runs into the same walls. I’m going to share this with her. :)

  4. Patty
    November 21, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Kerry, just reading what you have written gives me hope for my 6 year old son, who is a high-functioning autistic. I clearly see him having these same problems when he gets older and I always wonder if he’ll be able to empathize with other people. He surprises me every once in a while when he asks me if I’m OK when I obviously hurt myself. It gives me hope that he’s starting to learn that there are others around him who feel as he does.
    “Lori” is right. You just might be the next Michael Jordan of Autism. We parents really learn a lot from you older Autistics who can give us insight into how your world looks around you. Thank you for speaking about yourself and not considering yourself “disabled”, because you are not. Good luck in the future.

  5. Michelle
    November 22, 2010 at 10:38 am

    i think sometimes we tend to treat those whoare different fromus in a way that they mite not realize were being mean.sometimes it may make us feel better to be mean to these people but they are just like us.

  1. November 21, 2010 at 5:56 am
  2. December 6, 2010 at 9:02 am

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