The experience of living with autism is known to vary widely from person to person and is often little understood by those who are not on the autism spectrum. On Wednesday, Nov. 20, Trey DelGrosso, a 13-year-old with autism from Swiftwater, Texas, will discuss his life growing up with autism. Titled “Autism: What is It? A Glimpse Inside What It is Like to Live with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” the free program will be presented by The Misericordia University Department of Teacher Education.
The presentation will be one of many that DelGrosso, an eighth grader at Pocono Mountain East Junior High School, has made about his life with autism. His mother, Jen DelGrosso, explained that her son’s challenges began from an early age, and included a cleft palate, developmental delays, celiac disease, sensory processing disorder, and other complications.
“Life became even more difficult for Trey as he progressed through school,” Mrs. DelGrosso said, according to a report this month by My Dallas Post.com. “The sensory, academic and social demands of middle school completely overwhelmed him. He began to have anxiety and panic attacks both at school and at home and was physically and emotionally consumed by simply trying to survive the school day.”
Thankfully, things began to improve when Trey entered the sixth grade, when, with the encouragement of his developmental pediatrician, he began to speak to his classmates about his experiences, creating a dialogue in which his fellow students opened up about their own challenges as well.
“His classmates were interested in what he had to say and willingly shared challenges that they face in their own lives,” Mrs. DelGrosso added. “This speech changed everything for Trey. Students viewed him as a leader and he had a presence and a purpose in school and in life. To this day, his mantra is, ‘There is nothing wrong with me,’ and he continues to offer his story as a way to help others understand what it is like to live with autism spectrum disorder.”
In addition to DelGrosso, the program will feature many other panelists, including Amy Linnen, director of special education, Pittston Area School District; Kelsey Suponcic, autistic support classroom teacher, Dallas School District; Jen DelGrosso, Trey’s mother; and Lori Charney, O.T.D., O.T.R./L., assistant professor and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Misericordia University.