Why I’m Advocating for Reliable Autism Supports Across the Lifespan
“Children with autism will one day be adults with autism, and regardless of what age you are, everyone deserves supports to live the best quality of life possible.”
This is a quote I shared in one of my first TED Talks I ever gave about my journey growing up on the autism spectrum. Today I would consider myself an autism advocate with a focus on helping families across the lifespan. This is a message I’d like to spread to the masses in our society.
Early on in my career as a professional speaker, I noticed I was really only receiving speaking engagements to talk about early intervention supports. While I agree early intervention is key, time and time again I would think to myself, “what about our adult population?” It felt like there wasn’t being enough done for adults in my local community.
This made me passionate about using “lifespan” as a theme in my presentations. Through this I kept bringing up the topic of adults with autism when it came to employment, post-secondary education, housing, guardianship etc. and slowly I’d have the opportunity to speak in more areas about the needs of adults.
Our society needs to truly understand that autism is a lifelong disorder and that regardless of where someone may fall on the autism spectrum, each individual has their own unique strengths and challenges.
We need to spread that awareness but then we need to advocate for our community too. I worked full-time for Autism Speaks for four years from 2014-2017 before moving on to fulfill one of my dreams of self-employment. During that time at AS I was able to meet some incredible people who are truly fighting for our loved ones every day.
I hope we as a community will stand by this theme of looking at advocating for resources for those across the lifespan. Looking back now at my personal journey on the spectrum, from being nonverbal until I was 2-and-a-half to just passing my dissertation defense to receive my doctorate, I can tell you it was a lot of hard work. I hope the resources that were given to me from adolescence to adulthood will be available to countless others in the future.
This story originally appeared on Kerry Magro’s blog.