First Autistic Student Graduates From East Texas High School - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/25/07-Quitman

First Autistic Student Graduates From East Texas High School

It's a dream come true for one East Texas high school senior.  Friday, he walked across the stage and became the first autistic student to graduate from Quitman High School.  It's an accomplishment his family never thought was possible.  

"Not only does Merritt have autism, but he also has cerebral palsy and oral mortar practica," said Julie Warner, Merritt's mother. "When I mainstreamed him from the beginning it was almost kind of like a sink or swim situation." Since first grade, Merritt has swam hard, all the way through high school where he will be graduating with a 3.6 G.P.A.

"Merritt takes general education classes just like the other kids do," said Warner. "He's taken physics and chemistry, all the advanced computer classes. He has just been included in everything. The kids are crazy about him." Merritt not only loves school, but also sports where he competes in the special Olympics every year.

"I love basketball, football, baseball and soccer," said Merritt Jones, first autistic student to graduate from Quitman High School.  It's stories like Merritt, Julie says she hopes encourages schools and parents to not be afraid to mainstream their special needs child.

"This is what they can do," said Warner as she points to Merritt. "There child can graduate. There child can walk across the state and receive a diploma.  I'm just so overwhelmed. I'm just so extremely proud of him.  There are no words to describe it." This summer, Merritt says he will be working for the Goodwill in Tyler. After that, he hopes to go to college at TJC.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

 

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