Guest Interviews — 11 Minutes

Dr. Kerry Magro (Part 2)

Guest Interviews — 11 Minutes

Dr. Kerry Magro (Part 2)

Kerry Magro is an award winning national speaker and best-selling author. Kerry has become a rolemodel in the disabled community. Non-verbal at 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at 4, Kerry has overcame countless obstacles to get to where he is today.In May of 2019, Kerry received his doctorate in Educational Technology Leadership from New Jersey City University to become Dr. Kerry Magro. He currently is CEO and Founder of KFM Making a Difference, a non-profit corporation focused on disability advocacy and housing.

Today Kerry travels the country sharing his story and telling our society to define their lives and their dreams in the best way they can. Of his highlights include publishing 2 best-selling books (Defining Autism From The Heart and Autism and Falling in Love) and working on the 2012 Motion Picture Joyful Noise. Kerry currently resides in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Would you like to support or connect with Kerry? Check out the links below!
Merchandise:
Amazon Affiliate Link:
Facebook Supporter Group where you can get support and give some support too – Kerry’s Autism Village
Social Media:
– Facebook: Kerry’s Autism Journey
– Twitter: @kerrymagro
– Instagram:  @kerrymagro
Send virtual tips and keep supporting Kerry’s work via PayPal at paypal.me/KerryMagro

Dr. Gwynette: Our next question comes from Scott.

Scott: What age did you move out of your parents’ house?

Dr. Kerry Magro: So I went to college at Seton Hall University. I received my undergraduate and masters degrees there. And during that time, I lived on campus and then I lived in an apartment with some of my friends for my masters degree. So I would say I moved out around after I graduated from high school around 19 years old.

Dr. Kerry Magro: And I moved back in with them for a short time when I was going for my doctorate in educational technology and leadership at NJ, New Jersey City University. Stayed there for a little bit and now I reside in Hoboken, New Jersey, where I have had an apartment here for about four and a half years now.

Kyle: The college experiences you’ve had, what was it like being on a college campus with autism?

Dr. Kerry Magro: It’s interesting, but I was one of the only kids at Seton Hall who had autism. My undergraduate was in sport management. So I really didn’t look at any disability support programs when I was going to college. So I kind of went in cold turkey, not really knowing what accommodations I was going to need, what types of supports I was going to need. And I really realized within the first couple of months on my college campus, that I was going to have to self advocate for the first time.

Dr. Kerry Magro: For so long, I just let my parents do most of the work for me. And I realized once I got to college, I had to be an adult. I had to be independent. I had to do all these things. I had to ask for accommodations. I had to ask for extended time on tests. I had asked for a private room for all my tests taken. And I think that was one of the hardest challenges in college, because I felt like a lot of professors at times… I was one of the first students in their classes who actually had a diagnosed disability, which made it an even harder challenge.

Dr. Kerry Magro: I’m actually going to share a lot of college experiences with autism in my next book that’s coming out as part of my nonprofit organization called KFM, Making a Difference. We provide scholarships for students with autism to go to college, and we’ve given out 86 scholarships in the past eight years. And after COVID-19 is over, we’re going to be releasing our next book, Living with autism, stories you need to hear. And many of the stories in that book will be from students who are succeeding in college with a learning disability.

Dr. Gwynette: Cool, so I’m going to go now to Patrick.

Patrick: How hard was it to transition to being an independent adult?

Dr. Kerry Magro: Oh my God, how long do you have?

Patrick: Not a lot.

Dr. Kerry Magro: It was quite a struggle. I remember vividly when I was transitioning from a high school to college, that being one of the hardest challenges. Living in the dorms for the first time. Living away from my family for the first time. So, it was a struggle. I was very depressed early on. I didn’t know, I wanted to move home so many times. I kept telling myself though that I needed to experience this.

Dr. Kerry Magro: And once I started making my first few friends as an adult, that transition was a lot easier. Not feeling alone was something that helped me tremendously, but it was a unique challenge. And then trying to find employment and go after my first internships was another big, big challenge in trying to become an adult and to find placement, even when I was in college, to actually help pay for college as well. So a lot of big challenges along the way.

Dr. Gwynette: And we see those around the lifespan, like you said, you finished high school and then you go to college and the support almost disappears overnight. And a lot of people don’t successfully complete post-secondary education. It’s a major challenge. I’m so glad you’re coming out with that book, because it’s going to be extremely valuable to a lot of people.

Dr. Kerry Magro: Yeah, I think it’s really important that we talk about this, especially in post-secondary, because only about one in every three students who have autism actually pursue a post-secondary education in the United States today. And we need to do a better job of not only educating the college campuses about our autism community and how to give them reasonable accommodations. But then on the other end, we need to encourage our students, our high school students, that college will be a possibility for them as well.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s well said. Totally agree. We’re going to go now back to Kyle.

Kyle: Any tips for those with autism for improving public speaking?

Dr. Kerry Magro: Yes. Record yourself. Record yourself speaking. That’s ideally one of the best. What we’ve learned about educating those on the autism spectrum. It’s the majority of individuals with autism are facial learners and I’m a facial learner and video modeling, one of the easiest things I did to help improve my public speaking when I was just starting off about nine years ago, was recording all my speeches, because it gave me the opportunity to be my best and worst critic. To notice how many times I would move my hands during a presentation. How many times I would say the word um during a presentation, which was a lot.

Dr. Kerry Magro: So yeah, no recording myself was definitely the best thing I could possibly do to improve my public speaking. And I’d just, with a journal in hand, write down notes. And then in addition to that also practicing my speeches in front of a mirror. So I could see how I was portraying myself when I was giving those talks. Actually, when I was giving my Ted talk, my first Ted talk was on the will of opportunity, the pathway for those with autism to college. So I talked a lot about that and it’s up on YouTube now. I practiced in front of a mirror for countless days because chunking everything into 18 minutes and you get cut off at 18 minutes, which is really, really challenging. So those were the two things that helped me the most in terms of public speaking.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, well now we’re going to move over to Ainsley.

Ainsley: Any tips for those with autism on how to start a career as a writer, because I’m a bookworm and I like reading and stuff and I know it makes me sound like a really weird person.

Dr. Kerry Magro: No, not weird at all. So, Ainsley, I guess I have a question for you. So what type of writing interests you? Are you more interested… Do you want to write books, do you want to write short stories? Tell me a little bit about what your interest is in terms of writing.

Ainsley: Okay. Well, I just want to write like a book in general, not like a thick one or not like a novel or anything, but like a children’s book and I’m working on one called Annabel the autism fairy. And I was going to do Ainsley the autism fairy, but mom’s like, “No, you probably shouldn’t use your name.” And I was like, “Okay.” Then I chose another A name. And then, I write sometimes and then I stop and then I haven’t written anything since.

Dr. Kerry Magro: Yeah, one of the biggest things that I recommend, and I do this for a lot of mentees that I work with. So in addition to my work with my nonprofit, one thing I do is… I’ve never had a mentor as a kid. I never knew of the Temple Grandins of the world, the Stephen Shores of the world, who both have autism. And I wish somebody, because I wrote my first book when I was 25, I’m 32 now, and it was such a struggle to figure out how to go about that process, so I’m totally there with you. Some of the things I would recommend to you is definitely consider writing a blog. Just going on a free website such as wordpress.com using an alias name if you want or using your name if you like, and literally just writing 100, 200 words every single day just to start on just your own personal experiences, just anything you really want to talk about.

Dr. Kerry Magro: And then that will help you get to the point where, once you start writing just for a little time every single day, it kind of becomes muscle memory. You start really thinking about it and it really, really helps. And then if you’re wanting to write a book, especially a children’s book, definitely consider looking at children’s publishers. I mean, actually my children’s book is right behind me right here. I will light it up blue, where I focused on twins on the autism spectrum. I reached out to a publisher who helped do publishing called Mascot Books. And they actually helped me through the entire process. They helped me find an illustrator. They helped me edit the book. They helped me write the book. So they might be somebody you might want to look at.

Dr. Kerry Magro: And then another suggestion I would have is if you’re trying to get your work out there, definitely find somebody, find a friend who’s really good at writing who can review your stuff and give you some constructive criticism on your work. And then if you’re done with that, look at createspace.com because that’s actually how I published my first book. I went through a self-publisher called createspace.com who actually helped me publish my first book, so.

Ainsley: Okay.

Dr. Gwynette: Our next question comes from Scott.

Scott: What age did you move out of your parents’ house?

Dr. Kerry Magro: So I went to college at Seton Hall University. I received my undergraduate and masters degrees there. And during that time, I lived on campus and then I lived in an apartment with some of my friends for my masters degree. So I would say I moved out around after I graduated from high school around 19 years old.

Dr. Kerry Magro: And I moved back in with them for a short time when I was going for my doctorate in educational technology and leadership at NJ, New Jersey City University. Stayed there for a little bit and now I reside in Hoboken, New Jersey, where I have had an apartment here for about four and a half years now.

Kyle: The college experiences you’ve had, what was it like being on a college campus with autism?

Dr. Kerry Magro: It’s interesting, but I was one of the only kids at Seton Hall who had autism. My undergraduate was in sport management. So I really didn’t look at any disability support programs when I was going to college. So I kind of went in cold turkey, not really knowing what accommodations I was going to need, what types of supports I was going to need. And I really realized within the first couple of months on my college campus, that I was going to have to self advocate for the first time.

Dr. Kerry Magro: For so long, I just let my parents do most of the work for me. And I realized once I got to college, I had to be an adult. I had to be independent. I had to do all these things. I had to ask for accommodations. I had to ask for extended time on tests. I had asked for a private room for all my tests taken. And I think that was one of the hardest challenges in college, because I felt like a lot of professors at times… I was one of the first students in their classes who actually had a diagnosed disability, which made it an even harder challenge.

Dr. Kerry Magro: I’m actually going to share a lot of college experiences with autism in my next book that’s coming out as part of my nonprofit organization called KFM, Making a Difference. We provide scholarships for students with autism to go to college, and we’ve given out 86 scholarships in the past eight years. And after COVID-19 is over, we’re going to be releasing our next book, Living with autism, stories you need to hear. And many of the stories in that book will be from students who are succeeding in college with a learning disability.

Dr. Gwynette: Cool, so I’m going to go now to Patrick.

Patrick: How hard was it to transition to being an independent adult?

Dr. Kerry Magro: Oh my God, how long do you have?

Patrick: Not a lot.

Dr. Kerry Magro: It was quite a struggle. I remember vividly when I was transitioning from a high school to college, that being one of the hardest challenges. Living in the dorms for the first time. Living away from my family for the first time. So, it was a struggle. I was very depressed early on. I didn’t know, I wanted to move home so many times. I kept telling myself though that I needed to experience this.

Dr. Kerry Magro: And once I started making my first few friends as an adult, that transition was a lot easier. Not feeling alone was something that helped me tremendously, but it was a unique challenge. And then trying to find employment and go after my first internships was another big, big challenge in trying to become an adult and to find placement, even when I was in college, to actually help pay for college as well. So a lot of big challenges along the way.

Dr. Gwynette: And we see those around the lifespan, like you said, you finished high school and then you go to college and the support almost disappears overnight. And a lot of people don’t successfully complete post-secondary education. It’s a major challenge. I’m so glad you’re coming out with that book, because it’s going to be extremely valuable to a lot of people.

Dr. Kerry Magro: Yeah, I think it’s really important that we talk about this, especially in post-secondary, because only about one in every three students who have autism actually pursue a post-secondary education in the United States today. And we need to do a better job of not only educating the college campuses about our autism community and how to give them reasonable accommodations. But then on the other end, we need to encourage our students, our high school students, that college will be a possibility for them as well.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s well said. Totally agree. We’re going to go now back to Kyle.

Kyle: Any tips for those with autism for improving public speaking?

Dr. Kerry Magro: Yes. Record yourself. Record yourself speaking. That’s ideally one of the best. What we’ve learned about educating those on the autism spectrum. It’s the majority of individuals with autism are facial learners and I’m a facial learner and video modeling, one of the easiest things I did to help improve my public speaking when I was just starting off about nine years ago, was recording all my speeches, because it gave me the opportunity to be my best and worst critic. To notice how many times I would move my hands during a presentation. How many times I would say the word um during a presentation, which was a lot.

Dr. Kerry Magro: So yeah, no recording myself was definitely the best thing I could possibly do to improve my public speaking. And I’d just, with a journal in hand, write down notes. And then in addition to that also practicing my speeches in front of a mirror. So I could see how I was portraying myself when I was giving those talks. Actually, when I was giving my Ted talk, my first Ted talk was on the will of opportunity, the pathway for those with autism to college. So I talked a lot about that and it’s up on YouTube now. I practiced in front of a mirror for countless days because chunking everything into 18 minutes and you get cut off at 18 minutes, which is really, really challenging. So those were the two things that helped me the most in terms of public speaking.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, well now we’re going to move over to Ainsley.

Ainsley: Any tips for those with autism on how to start a career as a writer, because I’m a bookworm and I like reading and stuff and I know it makes me sound like a really weird person.

Dr. Kerry Magro: No, not weird at all. So, Ainsley, I guess I have a question for you. So what type of writing interests you? Are you more interested… Do you want to write books, do you want to write short stories? Tell me a little bit about what your interest is in terms of writing.

Ainsley: Okay. Well, I just want to write like a book in general, not like a thick one or not like a novel or anything, but like a children’s book and I’m working on one called Annabel the autism fairy. And I was going to do Ainsley the autism fairy, but mom’s like, “No, you probably shouldn’t use your name.” And I was like, “Okay.” Then I chose another A name. And then, I write sometimes and then I stop and then I haven’t written anything since.

Dr. Kerry Magro: Yeah, one of the biggest things that I recommend, and I do this for a lot of mentees that I work with. So in addition to my work with my nonprofit, one thing I do is… I’ve never had a mentor as a kid. I never knew of the Temple Grandins of the world, the Stephen Shores of the world, who both have autism. And I wish somebody, because I wrote my first book when I was 25, I’m 32 now, and it was such a struggle to figure out how to go about that process, so I’m totally there with you. Some of the things I would recommend to you is definitely consider writing a blog. Just going on a free website such as wordpress.com using an alias name if you want or using your name if you like, and literally just writing 100, 200 words every single day just to start on just your own personal experiences, just anything you really want to talk about.

Dr. Kerry Magro: And then that will help you get to the point where, once you start writing just for a little time every single day, it kind of becomes muscle memory. You start really thinking about it and it really, really helps. And then if you’re wanting to write a book, especially a children’s book, definitely consider looking at children’s publishers. I mean, actually my children’s book is right behind me right here. I will light it up blue, where I focused on twins on the autism spectrum. I reached out to a publisher who helped do publishing called Mascot Books. And they actually helped me through the entire process. They helped me find an illustrator. They helped me edit the book. They helped me write the book. So they might be somebody you might want to look at.

Dr. Kerry Magro: And then another suggestion I would have is if you’re trying to get your work out there, definitely find somebody, find a friend who’s really good at writing who can review your stuff and give you some constructive criticism on your work. And then if you’re done with that, look at createspace.com because that’s actually how I published my first book. I went through a self-publisher called createspace.com who actually helped me publish my first book, so.

Ainsley: Okay.

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