In June of this year, Eric Duquette was the Salutatorian of his graduating class. Not only is Eric an honor student and fluent in Spanish, he also has autism. When he was 5 years old, he still couldn’t speak. His parents were told by experts that he would probably end up in an institution. However, Eric’s parents did not give up hope. They decided to take matters into their own hands by doing research into various intervention options for Eric. Teaching Eric to communicate was their main focus. As we all know…..communication is the window to leading a productive and independent life. In addition to speech therapy, Eric’s mom taught him sign language and how to use cards with symbols to communicate when he was hungry or wanted to go outside. As time progressed, Eric’s therapy with his mother turned into 8 hour days; where he had to learn 10 new words each day.
Fast forward to the bright 18 year old delivering his graduation speech as Smithfield High School class Salutatorian for 2010. Eric had the second-highest grade point average in his class and placed 93rd in the country on the Spanish V exam. Once a 5 year old who couldn’t speak; has turned into another example of inspiration for all children who suffer from the inability to communicate. Please take a moment to watch this heartwarming video of this wonderful young man who was given the gift of communication to prove to the world that people with disabilities should not be defined by their limitations, but by their abilities.
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