Home Education Degree ‘We’re capable of a lot’: Grad with autism is first to earn WKU special schooling degree

‘We’re capable of a lot’: Grad with autism is first to earn WKU special schooling degree

by Lisa A. Yeager

Clay Harville is the first graduate of WKU’s autism application with a degree in unique schooling. He hopes to apply his diploma and experience to assist others. Alton Strupp, Louisville Courier-Journal

Clay Harville continually knew he had become exclusive.

He knew he had a hard time telling what others had been feeling and that he could occasionally fiddle with his fingers or grind his nails. He also knew that he went to high school with other exclusive children.

But it wasn’t until he started high school — when he determined to broach the challenge with his parents — that he ought to name the distinction:


He was 14.

“I had trouble accepting it, to the factor where I became virtually disappointed with myself,” Harville said. “I commenced searching lower back on moments and idea, ‘Is this why human beings lose they’re staying power with me?'”

But his mother and father have been there for him. He saw a counselor. He located his groove at the new college. And he found out, he stated, that what he thought at the start changed into a weakness became his finest strength — a lesson he now hopes to teach different children with autism.

On Saturday, Harville, now 23, became the primary graduate of Western Kentucky University’s Kelly Autism Program with a basic and special schooling degree.

“Just because I have this,” he stated, “doesn’t imply it’s going to forestall me from doing what I need to do. In truth, it could help make it higher.”

‘We struggled with it.’

Harville was first diagnosed with autism at age four.

“We struggled with it at the beginning,” said his dad, Brad Harville. “We didn’t like the concept of putting that diagnosis on him.” In the future years, Harville could also be recognized with obsessive-compulsive ailment and attention deficit hyperactivity ailment. Born and raised in Louisville, he attended Summit Academy, a personal faculty in Middletown for youngsters mastering variations, until the 8th grade.

“We constantly had the expectancy he was going to develop up and have the equal stories as everyone else,” his father said. “He changed into going to get a driving force’s license. He changed into going to graduate from excessive school.“At Summit, it has been clean for Harville to make pals.

But that was modified when he started at Trinity High School, a Catholic all-boys university preparatory faculty. It became his first time being surrounded by “neurotypical” youngsters, Harville stated.

He tried to match in with the opposite boys, dancing, rapping, and telling vulgar jokes.

“I idea, ‘Well, this is beside the point,'” he recalled. “‘But to those men, it’s not. So I bet this is the way I’m going to make friends.'”

There had been instances when he struggled to study social cues or could not recognize why he had disillusioned a person.

However, he has become the faculty’s basketball crew manager and gradually improved his grades. He said he had a 4. Zero GPA by senior year.

“I desired to make my mark,” Harville said.

Some of his Summit buddies had enrolled at Trinity, too. But not all people turned into having fulfillment there, he stated.

“The one element that stood out to me the most, that was a type of a coronary heart-breaker, became seeing no longer lots of my buddies do properly at Trinity, academically and most of all socially,” he said. “They have been bullied, or instructors simply left them out.”

Some of these buddies didn’t make it to graduation, he said.

“I desire I could have been there for him for her.”‘Did this manifest?’

When he moved into a Bowling Green dorm in the fall of 2014, Harville didn’t yet understand what he desired to examine.

He turned too targeted about whether he wanted to make it alone.

“I’ve had a routine all my existence,” he said. Kids with autism love workouts; they don’t like change.”

The transition to university weighed on his dad and mom, too. His mother left circulate-in day in tears. Harville stated that his dad changed into not being able to make eye contact.

“As quickly as my parents walked out the door, I sat in my room, looking at the ceiling, saying, ‘Did this occur? Did I just severely depart domestically? Did I critically step into a whole new habitual?'”

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