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Autism Awareness and Acceptance

“Autism can’t define me, I define autism.”

Award winning motivational speaker Kerry Magro inspired Sleepy Hollow Middle School students on April 18, with these words and experiences from his own life.

The author, movie consultant and founder of the non-profit KFM Making a Difference, was non-verbal at age two and diagnosed with Autism at four.

“One of the hardest parts for people with autism is other people, how other people treat us differently. Look at the whole person first before you look at the disability.”

Many people diagnosed with autism have behavioral and social challenges, but they also have goals and abilities.

Eighth-grader Ari Kotler, who is on the autism spectrum, introduced Magro. Like Magro, Ari didn’t speak until he was four.

“Each and every day I wake up, come to school, and put on a brave face to face my many challenges. I try my best.” He said Magro is a role model. “Kerry travels the country sharing his story and telling all people to define their lives and dreams in the best way they can.”

 Students Kyle Gianni and Eva Poll piloted the Lunch Buddies program in the middle school last year, meeting with students of different abilities during their free time.

“It was very inspiring to see Kerry Magro. Some people don’t understand. This was eye-opening,” said Poll.

Gianni agreed. “Understanding others’ situations can do so much. This can influence people to do more for people with special needs.” 

Magro hopes the phrase ‘Autism Awareness’ will one day become ‘Autism Acceptance.’ He said, “We have a long way to go, but this is the first step.”

Special Education teacher Kelly Whelan reached out to Kerry Magro and The Foundation for the Public Schools of  the Tarrytowns provided a grant for his visit.