Kerry Magro did not allow autism to define him. The 31-year-old motivational speaker and author was nonverbal until he was almost 3.
“I didn’t know when I was growing up that I actually had autism.” Magro said.
Magro says he was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. He now travels to schools across the country sharing his story.
“Many of them had the same quirks as me when I was growing up on the autism spectrum,” Magro said.
In honor of Autism Awareness Day, he read his new children’s book “I Will Light It Up Blue” to 35 autistic students from Jersey City’s McNair Academic High School. ‘Light It Up Blue’ is a global autism awareness initiative encouraging people to wear blue and light their houses up blue to start a conversation about autism.
“It’s focused on the initiative that happens in April for World Autism Month called Light It Up Blue. And it focuses on two twins on the spectrum — one boy and one girl — who do have autism and learn about this initiative and go about advocating for themselves because of it,” Magro said.
“I would love to have autism awareness,” said McNair Academic High School student Jahria Harley.
“That was a very nice book,” said another student Jahrel Fannan.
“It was all about — it was totally amazing,” said Mohamed Toure, also a student at McNair.
But Magro says the book can also be used as a guide and teaching tool for those who aren’t on the spectrum.
“Considering 1 percent of our population in the U.S. has an autism spectrum diagnosis, it’s really important that we spread awareness, but also in the hopes that if we can educated these kids early on, they’ll be accepting of others throughout the rest of their lives,” Magro said.
“It’s incumbent upon everyone to learn more about autism because it’s so complicated. And as Mr. Magro said, if you know one person with autism, than you know one person, you don’t know the whole community,” said McNair Academic High School Principal Kate McCabe.
“I want parents to know that, you know, great things are possible. We’re learning so much about autism every single day. And just keep striving for the best quality of life you can for your child every day,” said Magro.
A portion of the proceeds from the book will go to Autism Speaks. Magro will also be traveling throughout April to London and Cairo to read his book to autistic children.