Self-Advocate, Kerry Magro
At 2.5 I was non-verbal…
At 4 years old in 1992 I was diagnosed with Autism…
Then 20 years later last Fall I received the 2012 Dr. Margaret L Bauman Award for Excellence in Serving the Autism Community for Advocacy at the Current Trends in Autism Conference, in Burlington Massachusetts.
I was overwhelmed with emotions. I kept looking at myself back then and where I am today and it just doesn’t seem real at times.
I just couldn’t believe I was receiving this award. I had always known about Dr. Bauman and her work to help individuals with autism but I never knew that there was an award, let alone a ceremony named after her! As soon as I found out I was already convincing my mom to help pay for the trip to Boston despite New Jersey dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
I thought it couldn’t get any better until it did. On arriving I found one of the other program recipients was my idol, the Founder of the Golden Hat Foundation, Margret Ericsdottir who was receiving an award at the ceremony as well! I had known about Mrs. Ericsdottir’s work for years now from the documentary “A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism” and to see her being recognized for her organization meant the world! When I had the opportunity to meet her after the ceremony I was awestruck.
Over two decades of being autistic has given me a lot of perspective into what autism is but it’s also helped me work with some of the most renowned autism organizations in the country. Organizations such as Autism Speaks and The Autism Society have opened their arms to me and given me a platform to help share my voice. I speak in the hopes of helping countless individuals and families understand that there are stories out there of people doing amazing things today who happen to be autistic.
But I am ever mindful of the entire autism spectrum out there today. It’s crazy to think that about 50% of autistic individuals are non verbal today in the U.S*. What’s even more shocking is that not many groups today are highlighting this phenomena and focusing a light on providing a communication solution for these individuals.
In the autism community 2 dreams I’ve always wanted are that one day autistic individuals can live lives independently once they reach adulthood and the second dream is that they are able to communicate with others. This is why I’m drawn to organizations such as The Golden Hat Foundation for their work. They don’t see individuals with disabilities but individuals through care and opportunity can shine through their abilities.
I am empowered by their motto: “With your support, we can change the world for people with autism. It is their time to GLOW”. Today, and for years to come I will be glowing with pride, hope and gratitude for The Golden Hat Foundation and I hope you will do the same.