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.
One of the greatest lessons I ever learned in college was the ability to lead through, “The Power of a Positive Attitude.” When I was growing up it was always difficult for me to commit to things, always hard for me to get to that next level. A big part of that was based on my attitude. I didn’t know it back then but I was blind from how my attitude was leading the direction of my life. I struggled so much back when I was a kid it was always tough for me to focus on what was needed to overcome those obstacles.
College did change me though. It made me understand the need to take my attitude that indeed dramatically changed in high school to another level again. This happened when I started to realize there’s a solution to everything. Indeed, some of these solutions are ever changing as our society evolves and gains more knowledge but like what my mom would always tell me, “there are no problems, just solutions.” This helped me tremendously. Whether it was was getting accommodations for classes or even finding a way for an individual with autism such as myself to get a masters degree in strategic communication, the solution was there for me to find.
For all those reading what I hope you take from this is that even though there is a great deal of uncertainty out there involving autism that you understand we must continue to push positivity in everything we do. There are answers out there to help our loved ones succeed, autistic or not. Getting down on ourselves will help no one in our pursuits for a better tomorrow. Our community is in desperate need of this. I know this might be harder for some but for those individuals I ask that you make an effort to lose yourself in your passions to make a difference for yourself and the lives of others.
Tell yourself, there are ways to improve my life. There are ways to help my loved ones. Make these your mantra. We spend so much time sometimes saying what we don’t have, what services we can’t find, what diagnosis’s we can’t get, that we don’t appreciate what we have today. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Live your life with no more problems but instead strive to find the solutions. And if you can, do it with a smile. It can make a world of difference. It did for me.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or through my Facebook Page here.
You’ve probably heard lots of thoughts and ideas about autism, but we want to make sure you know what is true and what is false. Our Family Services and Science department put together 11 myths about autism to help put an end to any misconceptions. All of these are great for students to share with their classmates. If you’re in college, get involved with Autism Speaks U, a program that supports college students in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts.
1. Myth: People with autism don’t want friends.
Truth: If someone in your class has autism, they probably struggle with social skills, which may make it difficult to interact with peers. They might seem shy or unfriendly, but that’s just because he or she is unable communicate their desire for relationships the same way you do.
2. Myth: People with autism can’t feel or express any emotion—happy or sad.
Truth: Autism doesn’t make an individual unable to feel the emotions you feel, it just makes the person communicate emotions (and perceive your expressions) in different ways.
3. Myth: People with autism can’t understand the emotions of others.
Truth: Autism often affects an individual’s ability to understand unspoken interpersonal communication, so someone with autism might not detect sadness based solely on one’s body language or sarcasm in one’s tone of voice. But, when emotions are communicated more directly, people with autism are much more likely to feel empathy and compassion for others.
4. Myth: People with autism are intellectually disabled.
Truth: Often times, autism brings with it just as many exceptional abilities as limitations. Many people with autism have normal to high IQs and some may excel at math, music or another pursuit.
5. People with autism are just like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man.
Truth: Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning its characteristics vary significantly from person to person. Knowing one person with autism means just that—knowing one person with autism. His or her capabilities and limitations are no indication of the capabilities and limitations of another person with autism.
6. Myth: People who display qualities that may be typical of a person with autism are just odd and will grow out of it.
Truth: Autism stems from biological conditions that affect brain development and, for many individuals, is a lifelong condition.
7. Myth: People with autism will have autism forever.
Truth: Recent research has shown that children with autism can make enough improvement after intensive early intervention to “test out” of the autism diagnosis. This is more evidence for the importance of addressing autism when the first signs appear.
8. Myth: Autism is just a brain disorder.
Truth: Research has shown that many people with autism also have gastro-intestinal disorders, food sensitivities, and many allergies.
9. Myth: Autism is caused by bad parenting.
Truth: In the 1950s, a theory called the “refrigerator mother hypothesis” arose suggesting that autism was caused by mothers who lacked emotional warmth. This has long been disproved.
10. Myth: The prevalence of autism has been steadily increasing for the last 40 years.
Truth: The rate of autism has increased by 600% in the last 20 years. In 1975, an estimated 1 in 1,500 had autism. In 2009, an estimated 1 in 110 had an autism spectrum disorder.
11. Myth: Therapies for people with autism are covered by insurance.
Truth: Most insurance companies exclude autism from the coverage plan and only half of the 50 states currently require coverage for treatments of autism spectrum disorders.
If you’re interested in raising awareness in college, visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/U.
This blog post was written by Alexandra Lewisohn and Maressa Criscito, the co-founders of the Autism Speaks U Chapter at the University of Michigan. Their Autism Speaks U chapter is dedicated to raising awareness and funds on campus and in the community. To get involved in our college program, visit www.autismspeaks.org/U.
On August 1, 2011 from 5-10 PM at 45 East 34th Street, 3rd floor in New York City, The Vintage Twin will be holding a trunk show event, where 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Autism Speaks. The Autism Speaks U Chapter at the University of Michigan is helping to organize this event and invite you to come out, shop and support Autism Speaks!
With a store run by stylists, The Vintage Twin treats shopping as a service and style as yours, allowing people of all colors, ages, and sizes to enjoy one-of-a-kind hand-picked, remodeled, and original designs. In line with its modernized products, The Vintage Twin is a footprint-free and socially responsible company.
Come join The Vintage Twin’s show, buy some fabulous one of a kind items, and help raise funds for Autism Speaks!
For more information about Autism Speaks U at the University of Michigan, visit our Facebook page to keep updated about future fundraising, volunteering, and advocacy events!