State College

Event shines light on autism

Nationally known autism advocate Kerry Margo speaks about autism at Mount Nittany Middle School on Saturday.
Nationally known autism advocate Kerry Margo speaks about autism at Mount Nittany Middle School on Saturday. adrey@centredaily.com

April is Autism Awareness Month, but Kerry Magro said autism outreach is something that should be conducted year-round.

On Saturday afternoon, the speaker, author and autism advocate and consultant made his way from New Jersey to Mount Nittany Middle School for Spotlight on Autism — a local campaign to help spread the word about the disorder.

Spearheaded by the ACRES Project, the goal was help show the public that autism is something that can affect everyone and every community.

“A lot of people think it’s just a children’s (disorder), but it impacts everyone,” ACRES Project board member Cathy Prosek said.

Adults Creating Residential Employment Solutions was founded in 2014 to help serve the about 700 people in Centre County living with autism, Prosek said.

The group, she added, has a three-fold approach that targets social, vocational and residential options.

To help highlight that, Prosek said members from the group contacted Magro to participate in its inaugural event.

“I do a lot of this,” Magro, 28, said, who was diagnosed with autism at age 4. “The bigger message here is that you’re not alone. The numbers speak for themselves when you hear it affects hundreds of thousands of people. But there is hope.”

Magro shared his personal experience to about 50 guests in the school’s auditorium.

“I was nonverbal until about 2 and a half years old,” he said. “That was one of the things I had to overcome.”

One of the biggest aids, he said, was 15 years undergoing occupational, physical and speech therapy.

“It’s not like what you see on TV,” Magro said. “There is a lot more that goes into it, and everyone with autism is different. ... My biggest message is to just be there to help, and spread hope, and lay out the blueprint for support.”

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

ACRES Project

Contact: theacresproject@gmail.com

On the web: www.acresproject.org

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