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Young Man with Autism Uses Assistive Technology to Give Commencement Speech

Posted Jun 12 2010 12:00am

Jeremy grad Managing Editor's Note: Congratulations to our good friend Chantal Sicile-Kira and her family on Jeremy's success.

San Diego Ranch Coast News

Inspirational autistic TPHS student graduates, will deliver a commencement speech

From The Carmel Valley News By Karen Billing

Jeremy Sicile-Kira is autistic and cannot speak, but that does not mean he has nothing to say. After seven years at Torrey Pines High School, he has earned his high school diploma and will deliver a commencement speech to his classmates through voice-assisted technology at the June 18 graduation ceremony.

“I am nervous but very touched that I am giving a speech,” said Jeremy, using a letter board to spell out his words. “I want to tell them never give up on your dreams.”

To graduate high school Jeremy, 21, has taken units in mainstream general education classes as well as in his severely handicapped classes with Allen Gustafson, whom Jeremy said is the “best teacher.” He does all the same work as his regular education peers, he just gets more time to do it. He passed his California High School Exit Exam on the first try and will attend MiraCosta College in the fall to study communications.
 

Next week he will graduate on the same day as his sister, Rebecca, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy.

“I was pretty amazed,” said proud mom Chantal, who never even expected it would be possible for Jeremy to earn his diploma, let alone with a 3.5 GPA.

Along the autism spectrum, every child’s symptoms are different. Although Jeremy can say a few words, he has never been able to speak. In a speech written for an autism conference, Jeremy explained how his autism affected his vision, hearing and motor skills.

He said he had to learn how to hear, how to know which noise to pay attention to and distinguish when someone was speaking to him. He had to learn how to focus to be able to see.

“If I don’t concentrate, the world seems surreal,” Jeremy said...

Read the full article at San Diego Ranch Coast News .

 

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