At 5 years old, Ann Kagarise was told she would never graduate high school. By teaching herself how to learn, she went on to earn a master's degree. Kagarise has since written blogs, been a speaker and is an advocate for autism. She's worked as a director of a battered women's shelter, with kids who were abused, and women in the jail system. In addition, she has worked as a journalist for 8 years and authored a book.
Kagarise is currently the assistant director of IDEA House Educational Services, a school for children with autism, and a social studies teacher where she considers working with the kids both a joy and a privilege. She went from filing papers to leading meetings, working with parents and districts. Her ideas about how to transition young adults with autism into adulthood are helping to tap into the student's passions and teach hands-on skills.
"Whatever it takes, BUT excuses for NOT doing their work is not an option. The first time a student said to me that they couldn't do it because they had autism, they heard from me the old "I have autism too," speech and that I've never allowed that to hold me back," wrote Kagarise.
She truly leads by example. "I want them to see the struggles, but more importantly, I want them to see that I found a way around those obstacles and made it to success. I want them to see that nothing stops me."