WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2016-2017

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/745407

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Page 167 of 211

166 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 6 / 2 0 1 7 billy megargel was an energetic two-year-old boy when he began losing his ability to speak. The 50 or so words that he knew slipped away and his developmental skills plummeted. Still, it took time for his parents, Eve and Matt Megargel, to absorb the life- changing news that came with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a wide range of neurodevelopmental disabilities that affect behavior, social interaction, learning styles, and skills. Billy's doctors determined he had a severe form of autism. The con- sensus was that he would make limited educational progress and that his ability to communicate with others would be rudimentary at best. The Megargels refused to accept prevailing assumptions. From that point on, Eve became a full-time advocate for their son. Today, Billy Megargel at 26 is an artist and musician who enjoys gymnastics and yoga. Using visual communication tools, including a computer tablet loaded with specialized software, he enjoys the give and take of relationships with teachers and those he loves. A talented painter in the abstract style of Jackson Pollock, his canvases reflect his emotions, exploding with color and movement. His work has been cited by The Boston Globe art critic Sebastian Smee and exhib- ited at Lesley University, the Laughing Dog studio in Wellesley, and Starbucks. He has perma- nent installations at the the Lurie Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and Jewish Family & Children's Service in Waltham. He lives with his parents in Weston. Eve Megargel's new memoir, Learning to Kiss, describes her son's typical days and life- threatening moments over his first 25 years. She tells Billy's story of struggles and victories as well as how autism impacts family members and what is possible with hard work— Billy's, her own, and others'. For five especially painful years beginning about age 16, Billy had severe medical problems frequently associated with ASD. Time and again, there were C O U R T E S Y O F I N F I N I T Y P U B L I S H I N G library reading belles-lettres literature bestsellers media authors Learning to Kiss J A N E T M E N D E L S O H N writer books

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