Meet Brady, an autistic student at Mercyhurst University, and a former Kennedy Krieger patient. Brady started coming to Kennedy Krieger when he was 2-years-old, and was seen primarily by Dr. Josh Ewen.
As a child, Brady didn’t talk much. Despite his difficulty communicating with others, Brady always felt understood by Dr. Ewen.
“He took the time to listen to me, a kid, who had challenges in communication… He made me feel heard and valued,” Brady says.
Not only did Dr. Ewen forge a relationship with Brady, but he also connected with Brady’s family, helping them navigate Brady’s diagnoses, which, in addition to autism, includes epilepsy and functional neurological disorder.
Dr. Ewen’s impact on Brady went beyond Brady’s time as a Kennedy Krieger patient. As Brady got older, he found himself helping young people, similar to the way Dr. Ewen had helped him.
During the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, Brady, who leads a Boy Scouts of American program, noticed many of the younger Scouts struggling with the lack of extracurricular activities and social opportunities available to them. This inspired Brady to begin weekly instructional meetings with the Scouts, allowing them to feel connected to one another.
The experience left Brady feeling fulfilled, and helped him realize his passion for changing the lives of children. This has led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in early childhood/special education.
“I want children who fall on the spectrum to feel represented,” he says. “I want them to know that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.”
Outside of his studies, Brady is involved with several activist groups, and spends much of his free time advocating on behalf of fellow neurodivergent and autistic individuals.
Brady is currently preparing for the virtual Brad McGarry Autism Appreciation Panel on April 17, which he will be moderating. The panel will honor Brad McGarry, the former director of the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM), and will feature six panelists, who will discuss the impact the program has had on their independence, academic success, and social and emotional development.
“We hope to educate the country on what it’s like to navigate the college experience as an individual with autism,” Brady says. For more information about the Brad McGarry Autism Appreciation Panel, please click here.
This Autism Acceptance Month, we celebrate Brady and his continued work to increase acceptance and understanding of autism and other neurodiverse conditions. We’re so proud of how far you’ve come, Brady! Thank you for inspiring us.