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Disability An ‘Advantage’ For Valedictorian On The Spectrum


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Defying the odds, a teen with autism who was once in a self-contained classroom and relied on a one-to-one aide is graduating high school as his class valedictorian.

Montel Medley, 17, was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and struggled through the years to become verbal and learn to socialize.

He attended a special education classroom early in elementary school before being mainstreamed with an aide. Even into high school, Medley told The Washington Post he needed support to deal with anger and learn to organize his school work.

Today, however, Medley is leaving Surrattsville High School in Clinton, Md. at the top of his class with a 4.0 GPA and he’s headed to Towson University this fall.

“Having a disability doesn’t mean you have a disadvantage,” the newspaper reports that Medley told the audience at the school’s graduation ceremony. “Sometimes it can be an advantage.”

As for his future, Medley said he plans to major in applied mathematics.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. Scott Standifer says:

    How interesting that he is going to Towson. Dr. Lisa Crabtree and the staff at Towson’s Hussman Center for Adults with Autism have been doing some innovative work for several years on autism supports for adults in the community. Several significant adult advocates are active around that program. I suspect that was a big factor in Mr. Medley’s choice.

  2. Robert Hosken says:

    This story sounds just like our grandson’s life: he has Asperger’s Syndrome and had a difficult time in grade school socializing, controlling his anger & frustration. He did well in his studies, though, and skipped 3rd grade. Now he finished 8th grade taking 9th grade subjects, and got the highest score nationally in a math contest. He may well graduate high school at age 16.

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