Growing up on the autism spectrum I dealt with countless challenges. As someone with nonverbal autism, I was unable to use full spoken language until I was two and a half years old. Even though I started speaking shortly thereafter, I dealt with difficulties with things such as communication and social interaction. Another challenge I had was with having extreme motor difficulties. When I was finally diagnosed with autism at 4, there was an uncertainty about what my future may have in store. Despite all of this, my parents kept pushing me and fighting for me to be engaged in the world. One way of doing that for me was through sports.
Now I was absolutely obsessed with watching sports as early as I can remember. Basketball being my favorite sport, I could tell you all 30 NBA teams and every single player on each one of those teams. It was my love for sports that made my parents encourage me to turn my love of watching sports into playing sports as well. As early as 7-years-old I was playing basketball, soccer and baseball.
Little League Baseball® was by far one of my greatest challenges when I started to play sports, as my hand-eye coordination wasn’t on par to the rest of my teammates. Also, dealing with difficulties such as not being able to hold a bat steady made it difficult for me to make contact with the ball, leading to a low on base percentage (OBP) for most of my career.
Looking back now, one of the things I can say about my Little League® experience is that it helped me understand the word ‘adversity’ for the first time. Because of my struggles making contact with the ball, there were often times I didn’t feel like I was part of the team.
It was difficult to feel that way, and often times I found myself questioning if I wanted to continue playing baseball. Faced with those challenges, I dug deep and found self-motivation in myself. I wanted to stick with what I was doing, rise above the comments, and stick to something I enjoyed.
And successes did come later. Fielding was something I enjoyed finding a passion as a right fielder. Although my Little League career was short to focus time on basketball and soccer, I contribute my years of baseball to finding ways to overcome obstacles.
Years later, now as an adult who has found a full-time job in professional speaking, I attribute my experience playing baseball as one of the reasons I wanted to start a path of becoming an anti-bullying activist to help kids who may face similar situations to what I went through. Along with speaking, I’ve written a few books on my journey on the autism spectrum and have become a consultant for parents who care for loved ones with developmental disabilities.
While my Little League experience wasn’t exactly what you would expect, the memories and lessons that it taught me helped shape me into the person I am today, and for that I am grateful.
My advice for those reading this is to give Little League a shot, regardless if your child has autism or not. You may very well be surprised by what the outcome can be for them in their lives.
Short Bio: Kerry Magro is an award-winning professional speaker and best-selling author who’s on the autism spectrum. In 2011, Kerry started a nonprofit organization called KFM Making A Difference which interviews people impacted by a diagnosis to share their story with the world while also providing scholarships for students with autism for college. Kerry regularly speaks at schools, businesses, parent groups, nonprofit organizations and other special events on topics ranging from but not limited too disability, innovation, school bullying, the power of communication, diversity, workplace bullying, servant leadership and much more! For his efforts, Kerry has been featured in major media and worked with amazing brands including CBS News, Inside Edition, Upworthy and Huffington Post.