One of the hardest things to deal with as an individual with autism for me is often how some people can’t believe you’re on the spectrum.

Before I continue….

I’ll admit it; I today have an invisible disability. It wasn’t always like that growing up but today it is. When I speak to others I often get, “Oh, you have autism? I would have never known.” That is something many of us have to face on the spectrum.

My dear friend Stephen Shore who’s now on the board for Autism Speaks once said that, “If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met just that, one individual with autism.” Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects everyone differently. When I recently was giving a keynote talk and took a selfie with a 5-year-old nonverbal boy with autism and a young gentleman on the spectrum came up to me afterwards and asked me point blank…

“How could you have autism? You don’t act like that boy or me at all.”

It hurts me so much to hear comments like this. Being the kid who was nonverbal till 2.5, even though I started speaking in complete sentences at 5, I grew up in elementary school struggling compared to my peers when it came to communication and social interaction. Back then; this individual might have never questioned whether or not I was on the spectrum. I grew up being the only kid I knew who had autism that made my characteristics the norm for me. It wouldn’t be till I was a young adult I’d truly understand that wide spectrum.

Today, I know I will always have autism and I’m ok with that. As a self-advocate, it’s one of my missions to make sure those severely affected will be provided with supports across the lifespan but that’s the same for kids with invisible disabilities who need them as well. What I do know though is that our spectrum is unique and special. My hope is that this uniqueness will be seen for what it is so the next time someone shares about their autism diagnosis they will be accepted for exactly who they are.

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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.