Nationally-known autistic activist, author, and speaker joins Autism Delaware board
Published: January 19, 2022 By: Lisa Walenceus
Dr. Kerry Magro, Ed.D., an award-winning speaker, best-selling author, and nationally known autism activist, joins the Autism Delaware (AD) board of directors in January 2022 to serve a three-year term as its newest member. His service to the autism community across Delaware is another step in an autism journey that is dedicated to helping others on the spectrum.
“Most people who meet me don’t realize that I didn’t speak at all until I was two and a half years old,” said Magro. “For a long time, I didn’t even have any sounds. People told my parents I’d grow out of it — thankfully, my parents didn’t believe it.”
Magro was diagnosed with “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified,” a form of autism, at the age of four, after his parents took him to numerous specialists. “That began 15 years of occupational, physical, and speech therapy for me,” Magro explained. “Trust me, it wasn’t easy.
“While a lot of teens I knew were focused on making friends, getting into relationships, and enjoying after-school activities, I had IEP meetings, in-house therapists, and doctors’ appointments to attend, to help me with things like not being able to speak and having sensory overload, and a wide range of other difficulties that I had to deal with.”
Magro sees his early experiences, though difficult, as personally satisfying in their results and potentially helpful to people with new autism diagnoses, but he doesn’t want people to see autism just as a diagnosis for children and he doesn’t want the autism conversation to be confined to childhood experiences and interventions.
“So much of what you see on TV and in the press is about children. For me, what happens to children with autism when they grow up to be adults with autism is now the big question — it’s what’s happening today,” he said. “Kids like me are growing up every single day on the autism spectrum and we have to be ready for these kids.”
“So much of what you see on TV and in the press is about children. For me, what happens to children with autism when they grow up to be adults with autism is now the big question — it’s what’s happening today.”
“Kids like me are growing up every single day on the autism spectrum and we have to be ready for these kids.”
Addressing the big question
Addressing the question of readiness for autistic adulthood is where Autism Delaware’s executive director, Brian Hall, sees Dr. Magro’s most important contribution to the organization.
“We have always been and will continue to be committed to helping families and parents as they help their children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder],” Hall said. “But we need self-advocates like Dr. Magro to help us make solid decisions about the directions our organization might grow to continue to meet needs of people with ASD as they make the transition to adulthood and live their lives as adults with autism. He will be an unparalleled resource in that conversation.”
Board President Brendan O’Neill, recently retired Chief Defender for the State of Delaware Office of Defense Services and father of an adult with autism, agreed. “Kerry’s track record of informed activism and his unique insight from his own experiences as a person with autism will doubtless be an invaluable asset for our board. We are delighted to welcome him to our organization and look forward to working with him to further strengthen our mission to provide support as we look at what lies ahead for people with autism.”
Magro’s autism journey
“Because of all my issues and difficulties in childhood,” Magro explained, “I really didn’t know where I was going to be as an adult. I really didn’t have many aspirations as a kid because of the amount of services I had to go through.”
Although his aspirations weren’t clear in his early years, he has accomplished a great deal, always with an eye toward how he can help others with autism.
Magro has an undergraduate degree in business administration with a concentration in sports management and a master’s degree in strategic communications from from Seton Hall. In May of 2019, he received his doctorate in educational technology leadership from New Jersey City University.
He has used what he learned with those degrees to become a nationally recognized autism activist, author, and speaker. He has spoken at over 1,000 events, given two TEDX talks, and presented for Talks at Google. He also started KFM Making A Difference, nonprofit organization that hosts inclusion events and gives scholarships for students with autism to attend college. His best-selling books, Defining Autism From The Heart and Autism and Falling in Love, have reached Amazon best-seller lists for special needs parenting.
He views his work with Autism Delaware as another step in his autism journey.
“The more I’ve learned about Autism Delaware, the more they’ve impressed me,” Magro said. “I’m excited to see what we can do together to provide reliable autism resources across the lifespan for people on the spectrum.”
To learn more about Kerry Magro, visit https://kerrymagro.com.