Inspiring Graduation Speech by Autistic Student


Doctors didn’t offer Judith and Dennis Duquette much hope about their son, Eric. He was autistic, they explained, and likely would end up in an institution. “Good call,” the 18-year-old salutatorian joked at his graduation Tuesday. “Today I stand before you accepted into every institution of higher learning that I applied to, so I guess, in a way, the experts were right about the institution thing.”

Eric was diagnosed with autism at an early age and didn’t talk until he was five. His mother helped him learn to talk and even taught him sign language. Today, Eric speaks English and Spanish. Here is a video of Eric’s inspiring June 2010 graduation speech.

Additional Resources:

  • Here is an article about Eric.
  • Here is a printable ELA Worksheet.
  • Here is a Teacher Wiki to share ideas on how you and others are using this article in your class.

Topics for Discussion:

  •  What words would you use to describe Eric’s speech?
  • What do you think is Eric’s biggest accomplishment?
  • What lessons could you learn from a person like Eric?

Take Action:

  • Do you know anyone who is autistic? Find out what you can do to help make their life a little easier!
  • Check out the National Autism Association website to learn more about autism and what you can do to help!

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.


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