Home > Autism Speaks U > Call Me Kerry and Never Rain Man

Call Me Kerry and Never Rain Man

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a graduate student at Seton Hall University, and is actively involved with our college program. Autism Speaks U is an initiative designed to support college students in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts.

Do you know that I was once called Rain Man by a college peer? Wow. When I look back at the reason why anyone would say something like that I think of some of the stereotypes of autism. Some think people with autism lack social interaction and others think people with autism are good at math. In the 1988 movie Rain Man, Actor Dustin Hoffman plays a character that is autistic and shows he’s good with numbers but also lacks some communication skills. Because of the popularity of this movie and mainly because autism was still very unknown during the release of the movie it became, for better or for worse, a characterization of what autism could be.

But you know what the problem is here? I’m autistic and I’m nothing like Rain Man. I’m now an adult great with verbal communication, I’m not as good in math and the differences keep piling up. You see, autism is very broad. No one diagnosis is the same and therefore when we think of Rain Man we must think of Rain Man as ONLY Rain Man. He is one symbol of the countless symbols of real people out there that have autism. I think that’s what makes our autism community great. We all are unique in our own way and we all have the opportunity to have our “voices” heard. Sometimes that voice is not a verbal one, sometimes it is heard through our art or music or some other skill or talent we have or simply a smile at our family members. Each and every individual with autism is a new and unique symbol of what autism is today and will be for our future.

So in keeping with the future…

To those who are reading…

Don’t call me Rain Man. Call me Kerry.

Don’t think I’m bad at verbal communication, because in fact in my own way I’m great at communication and I’m getting a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication to boot.

Don’t think I’ll be ready to help when it comes to numbers, because all I’m going to do is pass you a calculator.

AND, most importantly, just look at me as me. I’m Kerry and there is only one of me. Just like there is only one of you. Let’s embrace the fact that there will only be one Kerry Magro, just like there will only be one Rain Man. We write our own stories based on the biography of life which we are all living through right now. Let’s make sure the chapters we’re writing are good ones, by living it just the way we are.

So please call me Kerry the next time you see me, because that is someone who I  was always meant to be.

I just started a new video blog called “My Autism My Voice,” and this is one of the topics I discuss. Click here for more information. 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 or through my Facebook page here.

  1. Denise Strasenburgh
    January 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

    i have two autistic boys steven & daniel. steven is worse than daniel only makes noises cant speak poor daniel has suffered loads in his life because of being autistic he does not have any special talents but he is always happy but people dont understand him like i do which is a shame so if people see this post i hope they read up about autism and dont just shy away from these type of people. its time people realized life is not all perfect should come off there thrones for while understand real life for change and probelms that come with it.i wish i had more space to explain but i dont but i wish kerry all the best this year and hope he has wonderful life.

  2. Kay
    January 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Thank you Kerry for sharing your insight, it helps us to learn…

  3. Chris Thomas
    January 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Kerry, thank you so much for sharing! Until a year ago when my 2.5 year old son was diagnosed the only thing I knew about Autism was Rain Man. Stories like yours not only help raise awareness, but remind us parents that children on the spectrum can live full and meaningful lives. God bless you!

    • Asha
      January 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Hello Chris:
      My son Joshua was diagnosed about 4 yrs ago and was high functioning and a friend was kind enough to recommend a natural product which is closest to mother’s milk which I used and today my son shows no signs of Autism or ADD and I just would like to share this product with whom ever in interested. Thanks

      • barbara
        January 6, 2012 at 6:33 am

        what is this product.

  4. Zainurin
    January 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Hi Kerry, just so happen to bump into your article on life as an autistic. Your writing has given me a new hope for my austistic son for now we can clearly see that there is no boundries to their futures. Society might be cruel but its because they do not understand about autism. I pray for all the autistic children all over the world that they be accepted as part of the society and may all the parents be given abundance of patience and strenght in bringing them up. Thanks for the hope.

  5. January 5, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Kerry,
    I have often read your blogs and been impressed with your sensitive reflections of how autism has affected your life and those of others with positivity. This particular blog reached into my heart in a special way. I have been asked occasionally on radio interviews about our family collaborative Starabella audio/picture books for children to point out to listeners the “symptoms of autism.” I have answered that autism is a broad spectrum and that although people with autism often share certain characteristics, no two people dealing with autism are alike. I was touched by your statement: “…we all have the opportunity to have our “voices” heard. Sometimes that voice is not a verbal one, sometimes it is heard through our art or music or some other skill or talent we have or simply a smile at our family members.” This is a message that our family has been sharing also through our fictional heroine, Starabella. Starabella is based on the music and experiences of my daughter Tara. Starabella, like Tara is a courageous little girl with autism who expresses her thoughts and feelings and reflections of the world around her through music. When she’s happy, her eyes shine like stars. People have asked me “What about my child, who does not have a special talent – how can that child communicate?” I answer – be aware that autistic people have much on their minds and abilities that they cannot always communicate verbally. When you get to know them, windows open up to allow you it peer into their thoughts and soul. It is worth exploring the various arts and technical means of communication as a way for them to express themselves. As you said, it might be through a smile and I may add, their facial or physical expressions. And importantly, the way they face each day with courage and determination that inspires others. Thank you for opening up our thinking about this and sharing your positive thoughts.

  6. Suzanne
    January 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Hello Kerry,

    As a parent of a twelve year old autistic son, I, too, have come to dislike what movies like “Rainman” have done for the public view on autism. I am an instructor and tend to portray the character “Rainman” as one who has both autism and savant syndrome (an almost genius like disorder most commonly found coupled with autism). When I talk to most people, I continually state how savant syndrome has this effect; however, only five percent, at max, of autistic individuals have this syndrome. I tell this information in order to spread a similar message to yours. Autism is different in every case, and as my husband told me, a diagnosis doesn’t change who the person is and does not define who they are. We are who we are regardless of what any diagnosis may imply.

    I truly respect and support your outgoing nature and willingness to continual pursuit to educate those around you! It is people like you who will inevitably make my son’s life and interactions with others easier!

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