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Teen With Autism Working to Earn Advanced Regents Diploma | News

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Teen With Autism Working to Earn Advanced Regents Diploma
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 LOCKPORT, N.Y.- "He doesn't want to be told what he can't do," said Kathleen Ryer of her 19-year-old son, David. "Maybe that's the teenager in him."

Except the things David has been told he can't do aren't the things that typically cause friction in a home with teenagers, things like staying out late or getting the keys to the car. Instead, David, who was diagnosed with Autism when he was about three years old, is dealing with the so-called limits of his disorder.

Luckily, David is of the opinion that those "limits" can be ignored. Instead, he sets his sights on ambitious goals, like his aim to earn a diploma with an Advanced Regents Designation when he graduates this June. An ambition that requires David take additional advanced courses, like upper level math and science.

"I made this goal to show anyone I can do more," said David. "Like exceed over limits."

If he passes his exams, David's parents say their son will be the first special education student at Starpoint High School to earn the designation. But they say it hasn't been easy; David needs Chemistry to qualify for the degree, but at first it was a struggle.

"We tried to get him to drop Chemistry, but we let it be his decision," said Kathleen Ryer. "There were teachers and everybody saying, you know, this is going to be hard for you."

But David didn't drop the class, and has gone from failing it, to earning a solid B or C.

"There were some classes that were difficult," said David of his journey, "but I managed to, I try to be as focused as I can."

Focus that has already paid off. David will be attending Niagara County Community College next fall.

"The most you want for you child is to be happy and to do the best they can, and he's done that, and he's still working towards it," said Kathleen Ryer. "So I'm very proud. Very proud of him."

David has been able to achieve all of this while participating in a number of other activities. He had a small role in this year's school musical, he swims and dives, takes Bible study and holds down a part-time job at McDonalds. He says he's not sure what he wants to study in college, but he does have dreams of one day becoming a novelist or a playwright.

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