Autism Speaks has a long-standing partnership with American Express designed to raise awareness and connect its employees to information and resources about autism. In 2013, American Express voluntarily elected to introduce coverage for autism-related treatments, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), in its employee health benefits plan. This year, we’ve been working together to facilitate a series of events throughout April that feature efforts to “Light It Up Blue,” advance safety initiatives, and encourage inclusive workplace environments.
To begin this series, Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro, an adult with autism and national speaker, had the opportunity to share his story recently with the American Express special needs parent group. Magro gave an overview about autism, his personal connection to the cause and finally, how those at American Express can Light It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd.
“Early on I had many challenges, but being non-verbal until I was 2 and a half really caused my parents to take action,” Magro said. “When I was finally diagnosed with autism at age 4, my parents could breathe a sigh of relief because they could start focusing on getting me the services that I needed to progress.”
During the presentation, Magro shared some of the early signs of autism and statistics like how 1 in 68 individuals in the United States has autism today and 500,000 of those individuals will reach adulthood within the next decade. “We Light It Up Blue because when people see the world go blue, we can start a conversation about how we can help the lives of all of those who have autism.”
Magro concluded the presentation, “Growing up, I wish we had something like Light It Up Blue to start conversations for people with autism like myself. I didn’t really grasp what autism was until I was in college because of the lack of awareness in my local community. I first came out to my peers about having autism because I wanted to become an autism advocate. Now I travel the country giving talks as an accredited public speaker to help spread disability awareness. More than anything, now I tell people that autism can’t define me. I define autism and I hope our community can do the same.”
Next week, Autism Speaks is participating in autism awareness events at American Express sites across the country, including Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Ft. Lauderdale, and New York City. We’ll facilitate national webinars for American Express employees about Autism Speaks’ safety and wandering prevention initiatives and employment resources.
You can watch Kerry's entire presentation to Amercan Express below...
Find out how you can Light it Up Blue:
Safety and Wandering Prevention Resources for Families:
Autism & Employment: