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My Pledge

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 the club 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.

Ever since I was aware that I was on the spectrum I’ve always had difficulty over hearing people use certain words in their every day conversations.  I’m bringing this up, since I have recently been in a situation where one of my peers used the word “autism” in a derogatory fashion about one of my friends who was not on the spectrum. As someone who has been advocating for those on the spectrum for several years now I have always tried to pick my battles wisely. Sometimes though it’s not that simple; you have to say enough is enough and take a stand on something, no matter the costs.

My friend said during this conversation, “Why is she not speaking tonight, it’s like she has autism or something.” As soon as this was said, I was angry. Angry that someone would use autism in that context and also how someone would use the word knowing that I was on the spectrum. This was not the first time I had heard the word autism being used like this, but I knew this was the last time I wanted to hear it. Instead of getting angry and verbally lashing out, I am taking the time to educate people about the hurtfulness some words can have on certain individuals.

With this I had an idea. Over a year ago I took a pledge to stop using the word “retarded” via the Spread the Word to End The Word Campaign through the website r-word.org. With permission, our Autism Speaks U Chapter at Seton Hall will also be doing a similar project in relation to World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd. Today however I would like to make a pledge via the Autism Speaks Blog in regards to autism. With this, I am also making a pledge to put myself out there to say what is on my mind more and to be more open to people in general. Over the past couple of years I have learned that there is a tremendous opportunity for myself to do some good for many families and individuals on the spectrum.

I encourage others to make a pledge, regardless if you are on the spectrum or not because the bottom line is you can make a difference and it all starts off with awareness. Here’s my pledge:

I, Kerry Magro, make the pledge to not use the word autism in a derogatory fashion due to the harmful effects it has on certain individuals. I will also make my voice heard and educate others who want to learn and/or are unaware about autism. As an individual on the spectrum, I hereby take it as my duty to stand up and protect my fellow brothers and sisters in the autistic community as we progress forward within our disability movement. Nothing About Us Without Us.”- James Charlton

(Would you be willing to make a pledge? Feel free to post your own pledges in the comment section below. Thank You.)

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. Angela Johnson
    February 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I,Angela Johnson, make the pledge to not use the word autism in a derogatory fashion due to the harmful effects it has on certain individuals. I will also make my voice heard and educate others who want to learn and/or are unaware about autism.As a parent with a child on the spectrum, I hereby take it as my duty to stand up and protect all within the autistic community.

  2. Ellenora Hurt
    February 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I never use the word Autism in a derogatory way.Autism does not define my son.His love and warmth for others do.It’s so many people use the word autism as a death sentence when it’s not.The only way we’re going to bring awareness to autism.Is to have more people research what it is and how it affects each individual different.

  3. OrI
    February 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I, Li Ma., make the pledge to CONTINUE to NOT use the word AUTISM in a derogatory fashion because the deeply hurtful/harmful implications are FAR reaching.
    I promise that I will also continue to speak out and educate those around me about autism. As an individual closely tied to, “the spectrum”, I WILL protect the very dear MUCH loved members of autistic community. This is very important regardless of those who do not realize just how powerful words can be (Proverbios 25:11) <3

  4. Deanna Riker
    February 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful article. Also thank you you making this a good cause to fight for!

  5. Amanda
    February 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I, Amanda, make the pledge to not use the word autism in a derogatory fashion due to the harmful effects it has on certain individuals. I will also make my voice heard and educate others who want to learn and/or are unaware about autism

  6. Shannon
    February 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I, Shannon, make the pledge to continue not using the word Autism in a derogatory fashion due to the harmful effects it has on certain individuals. I will also make my voice heard in promoting compassion, education and understanding for individuals with Autism

  7. Michelle B
    February 14, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I am “here” supporting the little children my sister works with as a teacher assistant in a Severely Handicapped class every day. She may not have autistic students in her class, but the teachers next door do, and she interacts with a few of them. I have never and would never think of using ANY child’s medical/limiting condition as a negative comment toward anyone! <3

  8. Marianne
    February 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I, Marianne Bjorklund pledge not to use the word Autism in a derogatory fashion. I also pledge that I will become more knowledgable about the spectrum then educate those in need of being educated.

  9. Jo Walter
    February 15, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I applaud your courage and commitment. My daughter turns 5 next week and was diagnoses on the spectrum just last summer. It’s hard to hear when people do things like that, and I’m sorry you had to experience that. At our house, we don’t even use the word “autistic” to describe our daughter. I have bipolar disorder and it always hurt when people would say “oh she’s bipolar”, I am not the illness I carry any more than my daughter “is” her disability. It’s a part of who she is, not the sum of her parts.

    Kudos to you for putting a voice out there and making it be heard. There is nothing more wrong than to see wrong and do nothing.

  10. Tammy
    May 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I Tammy Spanner will pledge to always be there for my son, and keep on fighting
    to get him all the help he needs and deserves so he can function in life

  1. February 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

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