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Growing up with autism wasn’t always easy. When I was young I often looked for a role model to look up too from the autism community. That was when the numbers of autism were about 1 in every 1000 individuals being diagnosed in the early 90’s. Because of the rise of awareness of autism, many autism advocates have become well known in our disability movement. With each story told, we’ve also seen many self-advocates inspiring our community.

With that I wanted to share with you the people who’ve inspired me in the hopes that when the next time you are looking for hope, you will look at these 10 individuals beautiful stories and share them with your loved ones. They inspire me everyday and without them I don’t believe I’m the same self-advocate today. I now get to do several things that I only dreamed about as a kid such as being a national speaker, author and movie consultant. Want me to speak in your area? Contact me here for more details! Want to learn more about these individuals stories? Simply click on their name below for more details to learn more. Starting off with one of our newest advocates…

Dan Aykroyd

About Aykroyd: Actor in Ghostbusters. Cast Member of Saturday Night Live. Came out about having Aspergers a few years ago.

Jesse Saperstein


About Saperstein: Came out with 2 best-selling books. Speaks on a wide array of topics including anti-bullying.

Anthony Ianni


About Ianni: First Division I basketball player with autism. Won a National Championship with the Michigan State Spartans. National speaker who shares his journey growing up with autism and encourages people to be accepting of others.

Carly Fleischmann

About Fleischmann: Wrote the best-selling book Carly’s Voice. Completely non-verbal but communicates through her computer and iPad. Has one of the largest social media followings of any autism self-advocate.

Dani Bowman


About Bowman: 18-year-old on the autism spectrum, is an illustrator, animator, writer, motivational speaker and author. Bowman was the founder of Powerlight Studios and received a scholarship for college from KFM Making a Difference which you can learn more about here.

Amy Gravino


About Gravino: College coach, consultant and autism advocate. Founder of A.S.C.O.T. Coaching.

Alexis Wineman


About Wineman: First person with autism to ever compete in the Miss America pageant. Her platform was: “Normal is just a dryer setting.”

Stephen Shore


About Shore: An international speaker who’s wrote several best-selling books. You can learn more about all of Shore’s books here.

Temple Grandin

About Grandin: Probably the most well known person with autism on this list. Gained national acclaim for the 2010 HBO Film ‘Temple Grandin’ based on her life on the autism spectrum.

Who has inspired you from our community? Share your favorite inspirations in the comments!

-Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.- (2)

Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help us continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here. Also, consider having Kerry, one of the only professionally accredited speakers on the spectrum in the country, speak at your next event by contacting him here.

We’d also appreciate if you could start a Facebook Fundraiser to support our nonprofit’s scholarship fund! You can learn more about how you can do just that here