Christopher C. Gagliardi
At 25 years of age, Kevin Brennan may look like any other person in this great country or any part of America including here in Bergen County in a city called Cliffside Park, New Jersey. Living life to its fullest from playing retro video games to the latest in new releases, he also enjoys the classic movies such as “The Matrix” or “Lord of the Rings” and beyond.
Kevin also loves computers. He loves going to class at Bergen Community College and is laser focused on math when he comes to study every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:15pm in the Tech Building. Kevin is the kind of person you would like to be around, he has the energy and zest to be enjoying all that this country has blessed him with.
But what is unique about him is that Kevin is also on the autism spectrum. When Kevin discovered that he had autism in 2007, he was not at all upset by it. In fact it was the complete opposite. He embraced it. “I thought it was neat. It was certainly different,” he said.
I also asked him what he thought about being at Bergen Community College; his response was very genuine from his heart. “Yeah, it is a pretty neat experience. Being able to work here is also pretty nice.”
He also loves mythology. He showed me a 9th century amulet that is said to swore off all evil spirits. Kevin has worn this amulet every day for 7 years.
According to the Autism Society organization website “Although young children with autism sometimes seem to prefer to be by themselves, one of the most important issues, especially for older children and adults, is the development of friendships with peers. It can take a great deal of time and effort for people with ASD to develop the social skills needed to interact successfully with others, so it is important to start developing social ability early. Furthermore, bullying in middle and high school, not to mention at the workplace for some adults, can be a major problem for people with autism, and the development of friendships is one of the best ways to prevent it.”
As a young man, Kevin was never bullied and people simply ignored him. He doesn’t have many friends in his life. Every day, people on the spectrum think they but when push comes to shove they find out, they may have one or two.
Not only is Kevin a great person who loves video games, on weekends, he LOVES to ride his bike. Not just around the corner, but straight to New York City and Queens.
The biggest challenge that comes with being Autistic in this country is people’s reaction. “It’s very misunderstood and I think it’s neurotypical versus the autistic mindset.” he said. His future is bright. He mentioned to me that after Bergen, he is going to the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Queens NY.
He has a strong message for the candidates for president in this year’s election regarding the issue of Autism. “Autism is not a disorder, it’s a difference in mind, and you should support people with autism, rather than look down upon them.”
This gentleman’s energy can penetrate a room and the hearts of people is truly one among many in the age of The Autistic American who is on the grandest voyage of all, trying to prove to the world that we are not just people who seek to make America a great place, but a better place. This gentleman in the upcoming years will achieve great things and inspire the world. His last message as we concluded this interview was this:
“Bergen is a pretty good environment, so if you’re afraid of being bullied, there is no problem at all. The people are very friendly here and Hopefully you can make some friends here.”