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A Graduation to the Future – Special Needs Salutatorian

High school graduates may not always remember their fellow graduation speakers, but for the students of Rhode Island High School, most of them will.

Salutatorian Eric Duquette was just not any other high school student. Diagnosed with autism at a very early age, Eric did not talk until he was five years old. Working hard with his mother at speaking and communicating through sign language, Eric’s parents were told that they would most likely have to send their child to some type of an institution. His parents spent up to 8 hours a day working with Eric on just 10 words.

Eric and his parents did not listen to the doubts that they were given. Much to the surprise of doctors and teachers along the way, Eric went on to become the school’s salutatorian. He also speaks both English and Spanish fluently. Not only did he have these great accomplishments, but he also was accepted to every college to which he applied to. He jokes in his speech that college must be the institution that they were talking about.

As you can see in the video, Eric gave a very touching speech at his high school’s graduation, thanking his parents, teachers and peers for believing in him and making him feel that anything is possible. His outstanding achievements really do emphasize that point. He is a prime example of believing in yourself and putting your mind to a goal. Learning disabilities should not get in the way of the hopes and dreams of anyone. Eric shows success in that belief as he will be attending Rhode Island College in the fall.

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