Friday, July 9, 2010

Salute to the Salutatorian

This is old news. Almost a month old to be precise. In this day and age I suppose that is almost obsolete, except...I don't think this story will ever grow old. It is the story of triumph, determination, and encouragement for others to do the same. I didn't really connect with it until I read this Examiner blog. Then I hopped over to the written news story and watched the embedded video. By the time I reached the last step I knew I had to post it again. It's probably been making the rounds of blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. but if even just one more person sees this and gains the courage to carry on it will be worth the several who read and say, "Oh yeah, I heard about this already." Even if you did hear about it try to read with fresh eyes and listen with fresh ears. It might hit you in a different way. Timeless tales have a way of doing that.

Eric Duquette lives in Rhode Island. He was non-verbal at age 5 as he entered Kindergarten, newly diagnosed with autism. The news is that he just graduated from High School as the Salutatorian of his class. His GPA ranked second among his 200 classmates. The advocacy includes:
  • his parents, who worked with speech professionals and on their own to help him gain vocabulary and make progress learning emotions, etc 
  • his classmates - it is obvious they are thrilled with his achievements
  • his teachers - from Kindergarten through High School I'm sure they went above and beyond to bring out the potential in this young man
  • and himself - the humor and even wisdom Eric expresses in his speech is heart-warming to say the least.
If you watch the video you will see that he looks mostly at the podium (except for one shimmering smile, greeted by applause and cheers!) and the prosody of his speech is stilted. However, this young man, who according to some professionals would end up in an institution, is bound for college and hopes to become a pharmacist. He encourages his classmates to, "not allow yourself or others to be defined by your limitations but rather abilities." I hope he will continue to find the support and resources he needs to live out that motto. He has a good start.

Meanwhile, I am encouraged as I consider the long road in front of our family. Our daughter will begin 1st grade this year. She has already made so much progress that I am often amazed. It has not been easy, nor do I expect it to be easy in the future, but I will hold on to the hope held out in the example of Eric. I hope others will also be encouraged to overcome their own limitations and maximize their abilities; and to advocate, support and encourage others so that they can do the same.

Never underestimate...

1 comment:

danette said...

I just posted about this too, I absolutely LOVE this story. :)


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