This year I turned 24.
To be honest this milestone really didn’t mean much to me besides knowing that in a year I could rent a car for the very first time.
I received an email from a parent in regards to helping her grandson who has PDD-NOS. Maybe more than any of the other emails I had received before, this question was very detailed asking for several questions regarding topics such as an early diagnosis, therapies, early childhood, how to approach the diagnosis, etc.
Even though I’ve helped answer questions before I asked my mom to help assist me in answering her questions. What I would receive back from my mom was something I didn’t even realize – it had been 20 years since I was first diagnosed at 4.
20 years of autism.
It made me realize how much time had actually flown by and of how I got to where I am today.
I thought about the milestones I’ve hit: playing for my high school basketball team, being student council president, having a girlfriend, graduating college, becoming a motivational speaker, writing a book, and maybe most importantly … having a voice to be heard.
Time slowed down for a bit.
To have this written out left me with so many emotions. Some of the stuff was so long ago I had no recollection of it whatsoever. What stayed with me though was the passion and the love that came with this letter.
No matter how many struggles were presented, my parents were always willing to go the extra step to help me and today I want to live by that example to help others.
My parents are strong. They are saints. Without them I have no idea where I would be five years down the line let alone 20.
I know I still have a long way to go but one thing I know is for the next 20 years that I have autism I’m not going to be sitting down. I’m going to fight, I’m going to serve, I’m going to commit, I’m going to conquer and I’m going to communicate for the better day for us now and for the future.
Kerry Magro is a 24 year-old self-advocate and motivational speaker using social media to mentor parents and kids living with autism. He is a full-time graduate student in Strategic Communications and Leadership at Seton Hall University, the co-host of Autism Radio: Hope Saves The Day, and has his own personal blog/vlog : My Autism My Voice. Kerry writes online for Autism Speaks, for us here at Squag, and for Autism After 16. He is a youth delegate for The United Nations and the proud recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Individual with Autism Award from the Autism Society of America.