The Girl I Knew Somewhere...
Amy Louise Rose Gravino made her grand entrance into the world on Wednesday, March 23, 1983--five weeks ahead of schedule, much to the surprise of her bewildered parents. Indeed, this was to be the only time in little Amy's life that she would find herself "coming out ahead" of her peers.
Raised in the quiet harbor town of Port Jefferson, New York, Amy was doted on by her parents, and enjoyed frequent weekend trips to New Jersey, where she was doted on further by her loving grandparents. These visits would later become a refuge for Amy--her grandparents' house becoming the one place where she found safety from the tumult of her grammar-school life.
The year was 1994. The diagnostic criteria for Asperger's Syndrome had just been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV). Amy's life at school was becoming increasingly volatile: meltdowns, breakdowns, and nearly shutting down completely were everyday occurrences. Things had begun to deteriorate at home as well, and Amy's parents desperately wanted answers to questions that no one even knew how to ask.
One referral lead to another, and soon Amy and her parents found themselves at the Child Psychology department of Stony Brook University on Long Island. Dr. John Pomeroy--a kindly, soft-spoken Englishman with calm, blue eyes-- sat with the family for all of ten minutes before delivering life-altering news to the three Gravinos: little Amy had Asperger's Syndrome.
And so, it was from this moment that a journey began. Unexpected and uncharted, it brought Amy to the edges of the map; clinging, holding on, waiting for the scenery to change. Living through each day became a greater and greater challenge as Amy suffered at the hands of her peers and an ill-equipped school district that offered her minimal supports and inadequate services.
But Amy persevered, successfully graduating high school in 2001 and going on to the world of higher education at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It was here that Amy blossomed and thrived, making friends and living in a dorm, finally able to be herself. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 2005, decked out in cap and gown as she walked on stage with her fellow graduates.
Just two months after graduating, Amy moved to Seattle, Washington, seeking a change of scenery and the opportunity to further forge her identity, both as a woman and a woman with Asperger's Syndrome. Her stay on the West Coast would last two years, before a new path presented itself to her.
In 2007, Amy was accepted into the Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Caldwell College in Caldwell, New Jersey. In 2011, Amy completed her thesis study, which attempted to use the principles of ABA to teach adult males with Asperger's Syndrome how to ask someone out on a date, and received her degree.
Amy is also a writer, having had pieces of her work published in numerous outlets, including the textbook Special Education, edited by William L. Heward; Autism Spectrum Quarterly; the Autism Asperger Publishing Company newsletter; the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation newsletter and blog; and the official blog of Autism Speaks. She is presently authoring and looking for a publisher for her book, The Naughty Autie, which chronicles her experiences with relationships, dating, and sexuality as a woman with Asperger's Syndrome.
Amy is a Certified Autism Specialist and college coach for individuals with Asperger's Syndrome, and the founder of A.S.C.O.T Coaching, LLC. She is also a seasoned public speaker, having spoken at conferences, professional development workshops, support group meetings, and more since the age of 14.
Currently, Amy is offering services as a college coach, autism consultant, and public speaker. All related inquiries can be directed to Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to her business manager, Nicole Turon-Diaz, at email@example.com.
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