The Misericordia University Department of Teacher Education is presenting the free program, “Autism: What is It? A Glimpse Inside What It is Like to Live with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” on Wednesday, Nov. 20 featuring a talk by 13-year-old Trey DelGrosso of Swiftwater, who will discuss his life growing up with autism.
The American Education Week program begins at 5 p.m. with poster presentations on autism-related research by Misericordia students, along with a display on children’s literature about autism. DelGrosso’s talk is from 6-6:45 p.m. A question-and-answer session with a panel of autism experts will follow the presentation.
The program, in the Catherine Evans McGowan Room of the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library, features the following panelists: 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.
An eighth-grade student at Pocono Mountain East Junior High School, DelGrosso has made many public presentations on what it is like to live with autism. His challenges began at a young age, according to Mrs. DelGrosso. Born with a cleft palate, DelGrosso had to work hard to learn basic skills, such as eating. The challenges continued throughout his early years as he was diagnosed with a hole in his heart, an inward turning eye, a connective tissue disorder and loose joints, developmental delays, celiac disease, sensory processing disorder, and autism spectrum disorder.
“Life became even more difficult for Trey as he progressed through school,” Mrs. DelGrosso said. “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.”
Help arrived at the start of sixth grade, when DelGrosso’s developmental pediatrician suggested that he speak to his classmates about what it is like to live with autism. The goal for explaining what life is like for him was to make his classmates more accepting of him.
“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.”
For more information about the program, please contact Roberta “Bobbi” Yeager, Ed.D., assistant professor, Department of Teacher Education at Misericordia University, at 570-674-8144 or email@example.com
For more information about the Department of Teacher Education at Misericordia University, please call 570-674-6400 or visit www.misericordia.edu/education.