Friday, September 18

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

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Clay Harville is the first graduate 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 becomes exclusive.

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

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:

Autism.

He was 14.

“I had trouble accepting it, to the factor where I turned into 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 at the start he thought changed into a weakness, changed into alternatively his finest strength — a lesson he now hopes to educate different children with autism.

On Saturday, Harville, now 23, has become the primary to graduate from Western Kentucky University’s Kelly Autism Program with a degree in basic and special schooling.

“Just because I actually have this,” he stated, “it 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 turned into 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 with 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 modified while he started at Trinity High School, a Catholic all-boys, university preparatory faculty. It became his first time being surrounded by using “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 he struggled studying social cues or could not recognize why he had disillusioned a person.

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

“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 maximum, 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 both bullied or they were simply left out by way of instructors.”

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 simply manifest?’

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

He turned into too targeted on whether he may want to make it on his personal.

“I’ve had a routine all my existence,” he stated. “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. His dad changed into not able to make eye contact, Harville stated.

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

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