Kerry Magro, 25
When were you diagnosed with autism?
I was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, a form of autism, when I was 4 years old.
How has autism impacted your life?
As for many people, it has impacted my life both positively and negatively. Obviously, with any disorder, you are going to have difficulties in certain areas. I grew up with difficulties in social interaction, communication delays, sensory integration difficulties, and anger issues. Over time though—going through physical, occupational, and speech therapy—I’ve done things in my life that I never thought possible. Some have been due to my ability to focus intensely, a trait found in many people with autism. It has led me to be a motivational speaker for people with disabilities, the owner of a non-profit business, and a soon-to-be graduate of Seton Hall University with a Master’s degree in strategic communications and leadership. It’s all about how you approach what is given to you in your life, being realistic and setting out to make an impact in the areas where you want to go. All in all, I’m proud to say autism has made me a very lucky individual.
Is there a person, place or thing that helps you in dealing with autism?
My parents are the first people who come to mind. Basketball was also so huge for me because it gave me something to strive for and taught me how to commit to something and stick with it for the first time in my life. Finally, theater has been extremely helpful. Acting has helped me so much in my overall development, from social interaction to communication to just building my confidence to go after my dreams. I even had the opportunity to be a screenwriter for Todd Graff’s motion picture Joyful Noise. I helped rewrite a character, Walter, who is portrayed as having Asperger’s syndrome (another form of autism). It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.
For more information about autism visit autismspeaks.org.