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Thanks to many, student with autism graduates from HCC [Letter]

On Tuesday, May 21, my son graduated from HCC, and I want to thank the many people who made his graduation possible. In 1994, he was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder: not otherwise specified, in Prince William County, Va. It became clear that Prince William was not the place for him to receive his education and I was fortunate to get a job in the Howard County School System in 1996.

In 1996, Howard County was not the school system it is now for students with autism and other kids on the autism spectrum. Associate Superintendent Sandra J. Erickson was one of those individuals who oversaw the change in the school system and the School Boards at that time and after supported the changes needed.

Throughout his time at Clemens Elementary School, Ellicott Mills Middle School and Howard High School, my son received individualized education as well as the standard education offered. In his senior year, he received a scholarship to HCC for a math class. It involved traveling there during the school day. Our only solution was to use the Howard Transit System. They have a system for people with disabilities and my son's greatest disability was anxiety. The Transit System supervisor became an advocate for my son, going so far as to give him his personal cell phone number, so that when the bus was late, he could call and let him know the status.

At HCC, the professors are more than accommodating, and met my son more that half way in many of his courses. I was allowed to attend films in the Film Studies Course to assist him in understanding the films made in the '30s.

Again, the degree earned was his, but there are ranks of people to thank that made it possible. He also holds a part-time job at the Green Valley Market in Elkridge, another place that believed in his ability and work ethic. So, now we look at funding the rest of a four-year degree for a young man who has beaten the odds since he was 2 years old. But always with the help of family and people who believe in him. Thank you everyone.

Steven Wampler

Columbia

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