When Kerry Magro was growing up he didn’t know anyone else who was on the autism spectrum.
Diagnosed at age two, Kerry grew up feeling isolated from other children. Since so little was known about the autism spectrum, Kerry was left to find his own way in a world that he often found confusing and overly noisy. As a result, the boy didn’t speak until he was over three years old, and doctors feared he’d never graduate from high school or lead a relatively “normal” life.
Now 31, Kerry continues to overcome obstacles and exceed the expectations of all who know him. Not only did Kerry go on to finish high school, he went several steps further and earned a doctorate degree. He has since devoted his career to helping kids like he was, kids who need to see positive role models in the autism community so they know they’re capable of achieving anything they put their minds to in their lives.
“Seeing someone in the media like myself growing up would have made a tremendous difference,” Kerry explained. “It would have given me more self-motivation seeing that I wasn’t alone.”
Kerry says that our society has already made great strides in becoming more inclusive, citing “Sesame Street’s” first autistic character, Julia, as a step in the right direction. Now he’s taking his mission of letting kids know they’re not alone even further with the publication of his first book, “I Will Light It Up Blue.”
Kerry’s children’s book features two kids who are twins. Doug and Emma are both on the autism spectrum; while Doug is high-functioning his sister Emma is non-verbal and relies on an iPad to communicate. Choosing to have two genders with very different personalities and characteristics of autism was important to Kerry as he wrote the book.
“I wanted to focus on a boy character and a girl character — even though boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism,” said Kerry. “I wanted to share the characteristics of a girl with autism in the hopes that people can recognize a girl who show signs of autism and make sure she doesn’t fall through the cracks.”
The title “I Will Light It Up Blue” refers to World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd. The story centers on how Doug and Emma learn to advocate for themselves while also educating readers on autism. Kerry hopes the book will become readily available in schools and in homes all over the world.
“The biggest motivator was to show how to be accepting of someone who is a little bit different,” Kerry stated. “If we are truly trying to be a society that focuses on inclusion, we have to make sure we are representing the community as it truly is.”
It’s truly inspiring that Kerry took his own troubled childhood experiences and turned them into a learning tool for kids who are right in the thick of growing up on the spectrum. His book is not mere entertainment, it’s a lesson in empathy that children will carry with them throughout their lives.
Please share this story to spread the word about Kerry’s fantastic new book “I Will Light It Up Blue.”
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