This guest post is by local resident Dr. Kerry Magro EdD, a professional speaker, best-selling author, and autism entertainment consultant who is on the autism spectrum. Kerry’s new book ‘Autistics on Autism: Stories You Need to Hear About What Helped Them While Growing Up and Pursuing Their Dreams’ is now available. Read on to read why Autism Acceptance Month matters from Kerry himself.
Imagine being autistic in 1992 in Hudson County when the numbers of autism were 1 in every 1000 children being diagnosed. The limited resources and lack of awareness potentially challenge you and your family to help you progress. You have challenges, and honestly, you’re not sure what the future may have in store.
This used to be my life. Flash forward 30 years to 2022, that 4-year-old child, now a 34-year-old-adult living in Hoboken, New Jersey, has a full-time job as a professional speaker. It wasn’t easy at times. I didn’t start speaking in complete sentences until I was 7. Thankfully through years of Occupational, Physical, Speech, Music, and Theater therapy, I overcame many of my obstacles. After graduating from Seton Hall and receiving my master’s at Seton Hall, I went back to Jersey City for a few years before moving to Hoboken six years ago. I started and graduated with my Doctor in Education in Educational Technology Leadership from New Jersey City University during that time.
I often discuss autism with schools and companies alike in the talks I give today. Autism is a social and communication disorder that affects every person with autism differently. We have a saying that if you’ve met a person with autism, you’ve met just that, a person with autism. Today it impacts 1 in 44 people in the United States. I’ve spoken for 11 years and have talked at 1150 events, written three books on autism, and consulted in film and TV to bring a realistic portrayal of autism to the entertainment industry.
My next book ‘Autistics on Autism: Stories You Need to Hear About What Helped Them While Growing Up and Pursuing Their Dreams’ is coming out on March 29, 2022, in time for Autism Acceptance Month in April. All the proceeds from this book are going to a nonprofit organization I started called KFM Making a Difference that, among a few initiatives, has provided 100 partial scholarships for autistic students to go to college. The book will share topics about autism: receiving the diagnosis, early intervention, overcoming obstacles, disclosure, acceptance, and what helps people succeed both in K-12 and college with a learning disability.
^ Kerry speaking at his second TED Talk
If I could leave readers with any message, especially with April and Autism Acceptance Month around the corner, it is to go after whatever you want to achieve in this world. I’m thrilled to have found some fantastic groups in Hoboken that have supported the autism community, like the Hoboken Special Needs Parents Group, Hoboken Public Library, Hoboken Public School District, along with incredible people such as Director D’Elia, Councilwoman Emily Jabbour, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Chairperson Romano and more.
^ Kerry speaking at a school in Bermuda
There are ways I believe Hoboken can improve to be more inclusive toward those who are autistic. First, having more sensory-friendly events for children all year round, such as Sensory Santa and Sensory Easter Bunny, would be a great start. Another area would be providing more advisory councils in city government for those with disabilities to discuss pressing issues that face them in this city.
When inclusion works, it means getting everyone’s voices together to make positive change. I hope to be one of those voices for a place I enjoy living in.