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Posts Tagged ‘Kerry Magro’

Be Who You Are

September 12, 2011 4 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a graduate student at Seton Hall University. 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.

Have you ever had that day when someone calls you or one of your loved ones awkward, odd, or weird? I think I’ve been called all of those words every year since I was nine. What do these words even mean now anyways? I think the easiest way of thinking of this in today’s society is someone who is away from the “norm.” That one person who does something that doesn’t seem “right.” Society has set us up with a standard that is set for us to judge without reason.

This standard has hurt people with autism for decades. When I was diagnosed with autism at age 4, I would soon have some tendencies that would be far different than the established norm. I was going to have a hard time with eye contact, some difficulty with my motor skills and also would have a hard time speaking in front of crowds. None of this makes me any less of a person as the next. I don’t want the pity that some grant for having a disorder either. I just want to know that at the end of the day I’ll be allowed to be me with no judgment, no questions asked.

That’s why when I write this blog I encourage everyone reading, to lead by example by taking action. If we let ourselves and our loved ones be who they are proudly, we defy and ignore the criticisms of others and hopefully lead to a better, more aware world; autism and all. As a college graduate with autism, does this mean I may have some difficult times from others ahead? You bet. It sure beats the alternative though of not being who I want and was meant to be, and that someone is me.

*What things have people said about who you are you that make you different from the norm? Feel free to comment below!*

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.

Individuals with Autism in College

August 22, 2011 11 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. 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.

A big part of our autism movement is surrounded by the numbers. No matter the organization, a standard that seems to be advertised is in regards to the prevalence of autism in today’s society. It seems like any brochure you open these days will tell you that….

  • 1 in 110 will be diagnosed with autism.
  • 1 in 70 boys will be diagnosed with autism.
  • A new case is diagnosed almost every 15 minutes.

Over the past couple of months I have transitioned to focusing more on the numbers for adults with autism. The problem is we still have a great deal to decode. I have looked through countless websites to try to find a standard but it’s been very challenging. I then decided to just focus on one area which was how many individuals with autism go to college/receive a college degree.

Parents often ask me how someone with autism can prepare for college and how many individuals with autism actually attend college. The number I usually tell them is that 1 in 1040 students was the norm of how many individuals on the autism spectrum attended my alma mater, Seton Hall University (5 autistic individuals out of 5200) because that’s all I know. My hope is that the more we learn about these numbers the more we will be able to assess how much funding should be provided for adult support in the schools. We already have estimates for unemployment (autism spectrum disorder ranges anywhere from 75-98% per diagnosis on the spectrum) adults still living at home (about 80%) or adults who will be on the spectrum in the next decade (estimated around 500,000).

Do you think numbers for “Autism in College” should be addressed more? What are your thoughts on the steps needed to see this become a reality?

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 Fan Page here.

LIVE Facebook Chat with Kerry Magro Transcript

August 11, 2011 6 comments
2:52
Hi, I’m Kerry! I am really excited to be here with you today. I am excited to talk to you guys about my experience on the autism spectrum. Please feel free to ask me any questions you would like!
2:53
Comment From Michele

My Granddaughter is six years old, reads at 6th grade reading level, loves music and Pokemon and my question is she is in public school he has part time with special education and part time with her class. She has extreme fits of temper and I worry that she will not outgrow this? What do you remember from being so young and how did your family help and support you?

2:53
Hi Michele!
2:53
Comment From Michele

hi

2:54
From my experience, I had a difficult time transitioning from Public School to Private School. I remember the hardest thing for me was just adapting to change. So what my family did for me was try to focus on a similar routine no matter where I went, in regards to hobbies and activities to keep me focused.
2:54
Comment From Jennifer

My soon – to -be 3 year old was just diagnosed. At this age, she still is not talking. She will babbly out words here and there…but no sentences. Were you this way when you were small?

2:54
Hi there Jennifer
2:55
I was non-verbal til I was about two and a half and once at about that age I was very similar in regards to babbling and trying to pronounce words. It wasn’t until I was first diagnosed, at about 4, when I really started to notice a difference in my pronunciation towards words
2:56
Comment From Guest

Kerry- what was your functional level at 5 and what therapies did you receive (how frequently?) sorry if this is redundant! You’ll probably get this a lot. Congratulations on being a graduate, by the way. :)

2:56
Hi Guest! Thanks for the Congrats!
2:57
I remember when I was 6 I had physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. It was the first time I started with those types of therapies. What I think I had the most trouble with was sensory integration with regards to different sounds and I think having the ability to be so involved with different types of therapies really helped me out a lot
2:57
Comment From Michelle C

Hi Kerry did you always have language. I ask because my son had language and was developing above average then suddenly lost skills at 2 and a half. He is now 4 and a half.

2:58
Hi Michelle – I started gaining language after I was about 4
2:58
Comment From Melissa

I am the parent of an 8 yr old with autism. As someone with autism what do you wish your parents and teachers knew. Jacob is high functioning but isnt able to answer questions for me. I feel like we cant completely communicate.

2:59
Hey Melissa – I think what I wish my parents knew was the nuts and bolts of an IEP. I think an IEP was something my parents really didn’t understand at the time and I remember it was difficult because my parents really never knew when I was earlier on the spectrum what kind of services I would need to include in the IEP.
2:59
I would wish that my earlier teachers in public school knew more about how to handle students with a learning disability. Not all of them were trained in special education.
3:00
Comment From April

Although you were young, do you recall anything specific that made talking easier?

3:00
Hi April! I started taking theater when I was about 5 and what I remember the best thing about it was even though it was difficult for me with words, it helped to build my self confidence a lot. It really made a huge difference in my early development
3:01
Comment From Guest

What was challenging in school for you? Are there any strategies that your teachers taught you that were helpful?

3:02
What was challenging in school was for multitasking in being in school. There were a lot of accommodations that I didn’t understand why I needed them. When I started noticing other students didn’t have the same accommodations I did, I thought something was wrong with me. It was hard because I didn’t think I was on the same playing field as them. I didn’t fully understand what autism was in my early years
3:03
In regards to strategies that my teachers always taught me was to always understand that everyone has something that makes them unique. Ideally everyone is going to go at their own pace
3:03
Comment From Guest

I have a grandaughter and she is three. They have not specifically said she has autism but she has alot of the same problems babling and having very uncontrolled mood swings. My question is are any of you guys medicated?

3:05
I was never medicated. My parents never believed in the concept of medicated me and focused strictly on different types of therapies because they were worried about the concept of me, ‘not being myself’
3:05
Comment From guest

what you thimk is best private school or public?

3:06
I think it varies. You really have to put a lot of work in trial and error. Really in talking to the schools and getting a sense where your child fits in. In my opinion, there were good parts in both when I attended public in my earlier years and private for middle and high school
3:07
Comment From Guest

what form of Autism do you have?

3:08
I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS ) Pervasive developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. It is a more mild form of autism and if they don’t clearly have the traits of those with autism or Asperger’s
3:08
Comment From Michele

What did you major in and what are your future plans?

3:09
Hi Michele – thanks for asking. I majored in Sports Management and my future plans as of right now are to continue to work on my first novel, continue working on my website, and to hopefully do something in the field of marketing
3:10
Comment From Zach

Hello, Kerry! I’m Zach Posar, a 19-year-old High School Graduate with Autism. Coming near the end of this month, I will be moving to South Western Michigan College for Graphic Design. I would like some advice on how best to adjust to that kind of life.

3:11
Hi Zach – what I would say is that you really need to figure out your strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to really go through a big change in regards to your overall day. What I did when I moved to college at Seton Hall, I focused on trying to find similar routines that I would do at home that I could implement in college; such as a specific time to do laundry, to eat, etc. and so forth
3:11
Comment From Richard Hackett

Is this thing on? My comments are not being posted.

3:12
Yes it is working! We are trying to get everyone’s questions answered!
3:12
Comment From Mark DiSciullo

Hi Kerry…first off thanks for sharing your time and insights with us. I have a 4 year old son with Autism. (high functioning, non verbal, PDD) … What are your memories of being that young and do you recall any of your frustrations in trying to communicate or having family trying to understand what you were trying to say?

3:13
Hi Mark! Most of my early memories being on the spectrum include difficulty pronouncing words. I had trouble with letters and sounds and I remember being very vulnerable would always seem to have an easier time than I did. It made me less ‘out’ and in some ways avoid them completely.
3:14
Comment From Jenny

My son has PDD NOS and wants to work but doesnt want to go to college probably because his LD is so severe did you struggle with ld at all?

3:15
I had the same problem going into high school. I didn’t think that I wanted to go to college because my LD was going to hold me back. At many times growing up I was told I would never get to college- that it wasn’t a possibility for me. It was definitely hard going through a lot of experts telling me I couldn’t do something. I proved a lot of people wrong and there is a lot to be said for giving your all and accomplishing your goals.
3:15
Comment From Kelly

What kinds of symptoms do you still have? Do you think those will ever go away?

3:17
One symptom that is very apparent in my life today is being touched by other people. It has always been a difficulty for me. I would always refuse hugs and something would tell me that it wasn’t okay. It has gotten a lot better, but when it is a surprise and get a touch or feeling from someone it bothers me. That is one symptom that has stayed with me.
3:17
Comment From Julie

Do you have any anxiety or anger management problems? My 28 year old son seems to escape using video gamd

3:18
Growing up when I was 6 years-old I was referenced by a doctor as emotionally unstable and without proper therapy I would have to spend the rest of my life in a mental institution. My parents spent a lot of time talking to the different therapists I had in regards to making the sessions as nurturing as humanly possible. I think overtime I really conquered my anger management issues. I still get anxiety from time to time but it isn’t as severe
3:19
Comment From Amanda

Hi! My son just turned 7, he has the same (PDD-NOS). At what age is a right time to explain to my son that he has Autism?

3:20
Hi Amanda! I was first told that I had autism when I was 6. The difference for me was I never understood what it meant until I was 11 or 12. My parents would tell me I was autism, but it would never connect that I had something wrong until I matured a bit.
3:20
Comment From Guest

What were your social interactions like? Family, friends, etc.

3:21
My Social interactions in my early childhood were focused specifically on my family only. It was very hard making friends and building my social interactions skills because I moved around from school to school to find the best accommodations for me possible. It wasn’t until middle school where I really found my place where I got to spend a few years in a program when it became easier for me to make friends.
3:22
Comment From Josephine

How long will you chat with people asking questions

3:22
Hey Josephine – I am on until 4 o’clock but I answer emails atkerry.margro@autismspeaks.org
3:22
If a question wasn’t answered today, please feel free to email me and I would love to get back to you!
3:23
Comment From Becky

How do you keep your attention focused on schoolwork? I’m a Sophomore in University with Aspergers, and my hardest thing to deal with is keeping myself focused and not letting my attention wander to things I consider more fun. Any suggestions?

3:25
Hey Becky! I think one thing that helped me a lot was having a recorder for all of my classes and having that accommodation because it gave me more of a safety net that I didn’t have to too focused on paying attention and I can just focus on the most important now and can come back to the other stuff later. That really helped me a lot
3:25
Comment From Karen

What support did you have while in college?

3:26
I had support through a disability support services on my campus. I would say that as a learning disabled student in college I received reasonable accommodations. I had extra time on tests, a laptop in all of my classes, a recorder as I had mentioned, a note-taker(another student who would take notes for me) and a private room to take all of my exams.
3:27
Comment From Brian

Hi Kerry, I’m Brian. I’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, how important did you feel it was to make friends when you were growing up?

3:28
Hi Brian – I would say that is was somewhat important to make friends when i was growing up. I was an only child and in some instances that hindered my social interactions to a point. It made it more important to focus on making friends. It really didn’t become very important until I was in middle school or high school.
3:29
Comment From Michelle H.

How did you make friends in college?

3:30
I made friends by joining as many organizations as I could within the first weeks of college. My thoughts going into college was always to put myself out there and if I did that then everything else would come easy. So I guess the best advice I could give is to advocate for yourself and try to push yourself to areas you didn’t think you could go to
3:30
Comment From Zach

Incase you didn’t get this: What’s your advice for after College?

3:32
My advice for after college would be to focus on something you know you have a great strength in and pursue those strengths. After college I knew I had a strong interest in sports and marketing. With that in mind I have tried to effectively put that into play. I have an interview with ESPN in 7 days!
3:32
Comment From guest

did kids pick on you

3:34
Bullying has been an ongoing battle for me. Through my entire education experience, from grammar school through college. In public school the kids would pick on me who weren’t in my special education classes. The kids who would pick on me were those who thought I was different. They didn’t know a lot about me and just thought I was different. What was different to them was something they didn’t want to deal with. Early on there was a lot of bullying on. My parents always told me that some people are born with hate and there is really nothing you can do about it. There is nothing wrong with you, you have to ask what is wrong with them?
3:35
Comment From Guest

Did you play any sports?

3:36
Growing up I played tennis, soccer, basketball, bowling, and chess. My parents really tried to advocate for playing sports early on. I had difficulty with motor skills growing up and they saw it as a new brand of therapy, which would ultimately help me in the long run.
3:36
Comment From Melissa

should I home school my child or do you think it best to get him out in the world?

3:37
It really varies depending on the diagnosis of your child in regards to where they fall on the spectrum. If your child is on the high end I would consider letting them go to school just because I think social interaction is very important for individuals on the spectrum to to, but if they are on the low end I would play it by ear and just see what you are more comfortable with and go from there.
3:38
Comment From Crystal

Hey Kerry! Thank you for giving your advice and sharing your personal experiences with all of us! Do you feel like Autism has made you a stronger person?! :)

3:39
I feel like I have been going through a lot of struggles in my life and they have made me who I am today. With autism I know it was hard early on especially with speech and different difficulties, but I think autism has pushed me to become a person always wanting to do more and someone who always just wanting to try for a better tomorrow in many instances
3:39
Comment From Diana

Did you ever have to deal with a major move? Perhaps to another state? What did you do to adjust?

3:40
I was born and raised in New Jersey so I never had to make a major move. In my first four years of grammar school I attended three different schools. It was hard, but it really taught me that there is a lot of variety out there. I understood different types of cultures and surroundings and I think that helped me with my early intervention even though there were difficulties that came along with it.
3:41
Comment From Alexia

When you were younger did you obsess over certain things like certain tv shows or did you have any stims that you could not control? if so have you overcome this now?

3:42
I was obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles and Power Rangers for a good six or seven years and it was one of the biggest obsessions I have had in my entire life. With that I became obsessed with television in general. I started to get double vision when I was about 8. There was a difficult transition from watching a lot of TV to a little bit of TV. I found other interests that helped me pass the time
3:42
Comment From Jenny

Do you tell prospective employers that you are Autistic?

3:44
I don’t tell prospective employers that I am autistic until whether I know I got the job. I do this for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is I am aware that people in the world are not very knowledgeable about what autism is and what it isn’t. I know as an adult I can receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace. If i got the job I would tell them I was autistic, but if they asked me in an interview if I had a disability(which they can’t) I wouldn’t answer
3:44
Comment From Kelli

Did you ever have any pets? I have read that some benefit from therapy dogs at home/school.

3:46
My mom actually had 9 cats and early on I was only comfortable really interacting with holding and touching cats. I definitely think there is a therapy in regards to this with parents who have individuals on the spectrum. It is trial and error, but I have a friend who has an autistic son who is scared of dogs and all animals because of the sounds they make. It really depends
3:46
Comment From Guest

You have been very helpful to us today. Do you plan on becoming an advocat for Autism?

3:47
I hope that I do become an advocate for autism in many instances. Throughout my life I have been very involved in community service and in trying to make a difference in the lives of others. As I mentioned others, if there is any way I can assist in answering emails, please let me know. That is the reason I am here today!
3:48
Comment From Patrick

Do people make fun of you with autism kerry?

3:49
Early on kids would make fun of me because they could obviously see I struggled with a few things here and there. They would act out on that and it was very hard early on, but as I got older and as I started surrounding myself with more mature individuals I noticed a difference. In college, there was a minimum of people making fun of me and people with learning disabilities in general
3:49
Comment From Michelle H.

How did you decide to start the Student Disability Awareness Club?

3:51
I started doing disability awareness because there wasn’t an organization like that on my campus. I wanted to leave my college experience knowing that individuals such as myself with a learning disability would ultimately have someplace they can feel a family/community environment from. That is why I began
3:51
Comment From Greg

Speaking of kids. What are you’re thoughts and/or plans about having children of your own?

3:52
I have thought about this a lot and I really want to have kids someday and I think i will. I don’t think this is going to happen for a while, but I have always kept myself open to the opportunity to do that.
3:52
Comment From Kelli

Do you think that they will a cure someday?

3:53
I am very optimistic. I think that with how much modern science and technology have gone there is the possibility. In the end though, I really think i have embraced having autism and being autistic and I think that as a community we should aspire to, yes it would be great to have a cure one day, BUT we need to also embrace who we are and the concept of equality
3:54
Comment From Guest

What about dating/marriage/kids?

3:55
I didn’t really have my first real relationship until I was about 19 – once I had my first relationship, I didn’t really know what the norm was for relationships at all. All I had at my disposal was what I read about and the internet. Dating has grown leaps and bounds in the past years, but it is still something I am working on.
3:55
Comment From Diana

Did you have difficulty when it came time to learn how to drive?

3:57
I didn’t get my driver’s licence til I was 18 and even then, there were a few difficulties in regards to riding after a certain speed. For about a year I could only drive in and around cities – I was very intimidated of driving on highways where I would have to drive faster. It took a lot of experience to get behind the wheel everyday.
3:57
Comment From Dorrie

what kind of support system do you have? do you come from a large family? do you have supports in a faith?

3:59
I have a great support system at home in regards to my mom and my dad who have done so much for me. In regards to faith, I’ve been a Christian ever since I was 5 years old. Many times I have questioned my faith due to my disability, having autism, and thinking how and why could this happen to me and ultimately why was someone doing this to me. Early on, I didn’t understand why but now I have a better concept of faith because everyone deals with challenges. It is really how you fight through those challenges is what faith and what religion is telling us to do.
3:59
I would just like to thank you all so much. This has been a wonderful experience talking to all of you and hopefully I can answer more questions in the future for you
4:00
My email is kerry.magro@autismspeaks.org if you’d like to reach me and check me out on the Autism Speaks Official Blog!
4:00
Thank you!!!

Kerry Magro to Host LIVE Facebook Chat

August 8, 2011 6 comments

Kerry Magro will be here on Thursday, August 11 at 3pm EDT to host a LIVE Facebook Chat. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University and active member in our college program, Autism Speaks U. He started the club Student Disability Awareness on campus to help spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by autism. Please join us as Kerry shares with us what it is like to live with autism.

To join the chat, visit our Facebook Tab!

Call it Cheating or Call it Accommodating?

August 1, 2011 23 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. 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.

I’ve heard this debate to death. Where do we draw the line? Do individuals with disabilities deserve extended time on tests and other accommodations or does it give those individuals an unfair advantage versus the individuals who do not receive these accommodations? The main stream debate seems to have been focused on the SAT/ACT and quite recently involving the GRE/GMAT/LSAT’s as well.  (Imagine someone with autism with these choices!)  Where do I stand on the question? To be honest I’m not a firm believer in the concept of timed tests at all.

The reason this came up for me quite recently was I was having a discussion with a peer about how individuals with autism may not deserve extended time but other learning disabled individuals may  after all some person’s with Aspergers are off the charts intellectually. It should come down to how does your autism affect your writing skills; how does autism affect your ability to read an exam; and how does autism affect your ability to focus on an exam? While many individuals judge autistic individuals within a certain stereotype of it being a communication/social interaction disability the argument was that maybe it should be focused on those who have a stronger deficit in one of those 3 primary areas previously mentioned more apparent for individuals with Learning Disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyslexia and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

In both high school and college I received extended time on tests as an accommodation (in fact, in high School we were given the opportunity to take as long as we wanted/needed with no time limit). In college it was very interesting to see the reaction of my peers when I would tell them that I had extra time that they didn’t. One individual even went to the lines of saying that I was “cheating”. The hope of leveling the playing field is clearly not a belief seen by all.

So where does my opinion lie in this debate? Easy. I think the education system is broken. This is one of the many problems that our education system in theUnited Statesis dealing with. More individuals with disabilities are going to college now than ever before which includes those with autism. Does our patriotic message of “equality all” tarnish with extended time? Yes and no. Autism is a wide spectrum filled with many different types of traits and characteristics that affect us educationally. That means some will deserve this accommodation and some won’t. The problem is when you give someone permission for extended time you are only seeing that they have a disability. All the characteristics mean nothing. You either give it to all who have autism or you don’t.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Are you pro extended time or con for individuals with Autism? Thanks everyone for reading!

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 Fan Page here.

17 Wishes from an Adult with Autism

July 18, 2011 33 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. 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.

If I had to make a list, this is what I would wish for the Autism Community…

1. I wish that acceptance was easier to come by.

2. I wish that loving one another was always on our mind.

3. I wish that an “early diagnosis” remains a high priority.

4. I wish that people would stop calling autism a disease.

5. I wish that communication becomes easier for everyone with autism. We are trying.

6. I wish that we find more treatments to enhance the lives of people with autism.

7. I wish that insurance for autism gets passed in all 50 states.

8. I wish that the government would understand the need for services for the autistic in schools.

9. I wish that autistic individuals can one day live their lives independently.

10. I wish that I was capable of helping more.

11. I wish that people would stop using the words “socially awkward” and “retard” in a negative way.

12. I wish we raise awareness for all with disabilities. Those of us living with a disability are doing our very best.

13. I wish for those who are or love someone who is on the spectrum that you know that we are moving forward every single day.

14. I wish that all of our voices can be heard.

15. I wish everyone will follow the words of one of my favorite performers of all time, Michael Jackson who sang in his song called, “Man in the Mirror”, If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.

16. I wish you all knew me when I was 4, when I was diagnosed with autism. For a long time I was lost. Scared of myself and what I was capable of. I never thought I would be where I am today… but I did it. I graduated from Seton Hall University this past May and will be going to Graduate School for Strategic Communications in the fall to boot. So for my final wish:

17. I wish for you all to always live life with hope. I wish that your days are filled with hope for a better tomorrow, and for today no matter how dark life gets sometimes that you realize you’re never alone. I wish this for you…

* I encourage everyone in the Autism Community to remember that we must come together as a true community to put our best foot forward. I know we all have a lot of wishes out there so let’s avoid distractions and focus on progress so we can all, “Make a Difference”. You can also find this article in the SFGate here.

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 Fan Page here.

10 Things I Have Learned About Autism

June 27, 2011 25 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. 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.

Quite recently I took the liberty of making a list of some of the things I have learned about autism through reflection. I then narrowed it down to 10 of my quotes that I feel best express  my understanding of the subject. They are as follows:

  1. Autism can’t define me, only I can define autism.
  2. Give advice to others in the autistic community through your own experiences.
  3. If someone calls you “awkward,” just know that it means you’re “unique” and a lot better than “ordinary”.
  4. I’m great at several things and broken in none.
  5. Ignorance is all around us but awareness is around the corner if we want it to be.
  6. Feeling sorry for myself will get me nowhere.
  7. We need to stop labeling and instead integrate, “people with people” in our communities who have different needs.
  8. Inclusion in schools will never mean I’m secluded from an education.
  9. Autism is not a disease, rather a disability that every day I strive to become an A-bility.
  10. Communication never takes a vacation.

As someone diagnosed with Autism at a very early age, I know the, “conversation” doesn’t end here. What are your thoughts on this list? Feel free to comment below!

My Voice

June 1, 2011 2 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. 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.

Almost a month ago I had the opportunity to speak at an Autism Awareness Event co-sponsored by the Mayor of Jersey City, Jeremiah Healy, the Jersey City Council and the Jersey City Public Schools.  I was honored as the keynote speaker of the event to talk about my experience with autism. I also received a proclamation from Jersey City, which is the second largest city in New Jersey and my hometown for my work on the subject.

While this was a wonderful honor, the best part of the event was the relationships I made with the parents who approached me afterwards. At the end of the day, this is the reason why I speak. To network but also to help consult for individuals with loved ones on the spectrum. In our community, we can only go as far as we are willing to help one another. There’s so much we have learned on the subject but there’s still a long way to go. Communication between all parties can never be excluded from the conversation. As I said in my speech that day, “Early Intervention is the Key,” however, communication is a close second.

Below you can find the video of my speech at that event. In it I share “My Voice” on the subject of autism and what it truly means to me. Feel free to comment below.

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.

This One’s For You

May 19, 2011 28 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. 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.

Yesterday was my graduation from Seton Hall University. As this has been one of the most emotional and happiest days of my life I have taken some time to reflect on my journey and get my thoughts down on paper. Many people told me that my road towards a good education was going to be rough. The word “impossible” was a word that I learned very early on in regards to people’s opinions about whether or not I could get to college let alone graduate from college. Now I just have to say…

Kerry at graduation wearing the Autism Speaks pin, along with the 15 honor chords he collected at college.

To the physician who told me when I was 6 that I would be lucky to get to high school, this one’s for you.

For the Special Education teachers who would look down at me like I was broken, this one’s for you.

For the years of being taunted and bullied by kids, saying I can’t and wouldn’t achieve greatness, this one’s for you.

For the people who helped me through physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy till I was 14, this one’s for you.

For my parents, friends and relatives, who see me as an individual first who is/was never broken, this one’s for you.

For those teachers who said I could do it, this one’s for you.

For the countless other individuals out there who are autistic or love someone who is autistic, this one’s for you.

For the people who say you can’t do something even though you can this one’s for you.

For the people at Autism Speaks who have given me the chance to express my “voice” and help others through the Autism Speaks Blog for over a year now, this one’s for you.

At the end of the day our influences in our lives send us on our path, either good or bad. When I was 4 I was diagnosed on the spectrum. Now 18 years later I’m a college graduate who will be going to graduate school for a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership. For all those people, again, the good and the bad, thank you. You’ve made me who I am today and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

…This one’s for you.

*On a side note, I wanted to add that I will be starting a scholarship program for individuals on the spectrum who are pursuing a post secondary program later this year. As a student, I know there is a lack of scholarship funding in this area and know even the smallest amount helps. Thanks for reading and remember to keep pushing everyday! We can all make a difference!*

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.

The Mean Things People Say

April 25, 2011 60 comments

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.

In the past, I’ve blogged about my own experiences and then tips to overall help individuals on the spectrum. For this post, however, I am looking for your thoughts and tips on a subject that I’m not sure there is a clear cut answer to.

Here’s the scenario: quite recently, I was with a group of friends hanging out when a mutual friend who was under the influence of alcohol started to become belligerent. He was clearly upset about something and decided to storm off. After several of our friends were trying to calm him down and make him come back to the group he called me out for being autistic in a negative connotation; like being autistic is a bad thing. He said, “Shut up Kerry, You’re autistic!” For some reason this remark just bounced off me, but after that experience I haven’t forgiven this individual or shared the story of what happened with anyone else.

It’s difficult sometimes to understand why people can be so mean. A few weeks before that situation, I was on my way to an event with a peer when I called, “shotgun” so I could sit in the front side passenger seat. My peer replied, “Sure, Kerry has that DSS hook-up right there.” In context DSS means Disability Support Services at the college I attend and this was in reference to getting accommodations for being registered as a DSS student. So I guess the question I have for those reading is…

“When did you first feel comfortable addressing comments either positive or negative people make about you or a loved one on the spectrum?”

I know this may seem like a very broad question but in my experience as an individual on the spectrum I’ve always had a tough time communicating the issue to others, especially when I was younger. Now at the age of 23 I have spoken at several events about the issue and can go up to anyone and speak my piece in a non-threatening way to make those aware of what’s right from wrong. The first time I can remember ever speaking up for myself was when I was 13. One of my classmates and I were having a conversation about disabilities and I mentioned that I was autistic. Almost instantly he said, “No you’re not, you can talk!”  I came back and said, “It’s different for different individuals” and then went for the rest of the class period almost discussing things such as high functioning/low functioning autism, the signs, the causes, etc.

At the end of the day, I know that I’ll fight in most scenarios to make individuals aware not only for myself but so other individuals don’t have to deal with similar cases. As a community here at Autism Speaks, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Please leave your comments below. Thank you.

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