Young Man with Autism Uses Assistive Technology to Give Commencement Speech
Managing Editor's Note: Congratulations to our good friend Chantal Sicile-Kira and her family on Jeremy's success.
San Diego Ranch Coast News
Inspirational autistic TPHS student graduates, will deliver a commencement speech
From The Carmel Valley News By Karen Billing
Jeremy Sicile-Kira is autistic and cannot speak, but that does not mean he has nothing to say. After seven years at Torrey Pines High School, he has earned his high school diploma and will deliver a commencement speech to his classmates through voice-assisted technology at the June 18 graduation ceremony.
“I am nervous but very touched that I am giving a speech,” said Jeremy, using a letter board to spell out his words. “I want to tell them never give up on your dreams.”
To graduate high school Jeremy, 21, has taken units in mainstream general education classes as well as in his severely handicapped classes with Allen Gustafson, whom Jeremy said is the “best teacher.” He does all the same work as his regular education peers, he just gets more time to do it. He passed his California High School Exit Exam on the first try and will attend MiraCosta College in the fall to study communications.
Next week he will graduate on the same day as his sister, Rebecca, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy.
“I was pretty amazed,” said proud mom Chantal, who never even expected it would be possible for Jeremy to earn his diploma, let alone with a 3.5 GPA.
Along the autism spectrum, every child’s symptoms are different. Although Jeremy can say a few words, he has never been able to speak. In a speech written for an autism conference, Jeremy explained how his autism affected his vision, hearing and motor skills.
He said he had to learn how to hear, how to know which noise to pay attention to and distinguish when someone was speaking to him. He had to learn how to focus to be able to see.
“If I don’t concentrate, the world seems surreal,” Jeremy said...
Read the full article at San Diego Ranch Coast News.
Thanks, I love this!! Congratulations, Jeremy and family!!! How truly amazing. And my son (who recently walked through the ceremony without actually graduating) really enjoyed watching this.
Posted by: Twyla | June 27, 2010 at 03:46 PM
What a wonderful speech. I love it. I found this inspirational story on youtube about a young boy with autism. It's worth watching.
Posted by: Cindy | June 19, 2010 at 07:18 PM
Posted by: Christina Waldman | June 17, 2010 at 01:59 AM
How Exciting & What a Wonderful Inspiration!
Congratulations & Continued Success with Your Goals!
Posted by: Nancy | June 14, 2010 at 01:19 PM
Congratulations Jeremy! You give us all hope. I'm fascinated by your insight into your auditory processing. My son was tested 1 1/2 years ago with a BEAM test for seizures, auditory and visual processing. It was found that he cannot discriminate between speech and noise at all. This and his verbal apraxia explain why his communication is the most difficult area for him. It is amazing to me that these are his auditory results because he does have a bunch of language, not too much back and forth, but simple yes, no..I want, etc. I told my husband after the results from the test came back that it is absolutely astounding that he cannot hear the difference between speech and noise but is able to communicate verbally as much as he does. He is obviously using other areas of the brain to utilize what language he has.
A couple of questions if you don't mind..Have you found that it's easier to understand auditorily through music and song? We've always used music as a speech therapy but recently even more. When the lyrics are printed it's much easier for him to understand what's sung and be able to produce the words more accurately so we can understand them. Also did you find it easier to understand when someone wrote down everything rather than just verbalizing? And then did it translate to you being able to understand it verbally after that initial written visual was given?
Thank you so much for sharing your story. You must be very proud Chantal!!!
Posted by: Allison | June 14, 2010 at 10:13 AM
thanks for your nice comments.
riley's mom: just have patience and read to him and spell words to him. he will learn.
Posted by: jeremy sicile-kira | June 13, 2010 at 05:35 PM
Congratulations Jeremy!!! You are an inspiration!!!!
Posted by: Kristin B | June 13, 2010 at 11:34 AM
Jeremy, thank you so much for telling us some of your story. It helps so much for those of us who have children who still cannot communicate to hear from those like you who can and can help us to understand the obstacles our children face in their struggles. I will be watching for more words of wisdom from you and congratulations on your current acheivements. I am sure there are many more great things to come!
Posted by: Sue Cranmer | June 13, 2010 at 09:08 AM
Posted by: Jake Crosby | June 12, 2010 at 11:28 PM
Ok, I promised that I would brag about you today Jeremy and I DID!!! My best friend said...See, Riley is just like Jeremy!
Again , Jeremy, I am so proud of you and good luck with what ever you choose to do. I know you will continue to shine!
Posted by: rileysmom | June 12, 2010 at 10:44 PM
Wow, what a wonderful story! Congratulations, Jeremy. Keep up the hard work and thank you for being a true inspiration.
Posted by: Nicole | June 12, 2010 at 10:13 PM
Posted by: Patty | June 12, 2010 at 09:07 PM
Posted by: Cathy Jameson | June 12, 2010 at 08:16 PM
Congratulations, Jeremy, on your graduation! You and your family have every reason to be very proud of your academic accomplishments. You are a fine example of what people can achieve with hard work and determination.
Two siblings graduating on the same day -- get those camcorders charged up!
Posted by: nhokkanen | June 12, 2010 at 02:58 PM
Congratulations, Jeremy & family!!!
And nice article in this month's Spectrum magazine!
Posted by: Twyla | June 12, 2010 at 01:55 PM
So cool! Way to go!!
I also found it interesting how much he has to focus to accomplish this, dealing with so much sensory input. Be proud!!! Wow!!
Posted by: Trace | June 12, 2010 at 01:30 PM
I'm so proud of you Jeremy. You are my Super Hero. My son Riley is non-verbal also. We are just now starting to work with him on keyboards. Do you have any advice for me to help him learn? Riley is "in" there. He does communicate with us he just does it without words right now. He is a very fast learner once we all put our minds to it.
I want my Riley to have his voice.
I read this and cried tears of joy for you and all your hard work. What a perfect way to start my afternoon. You are Superman Jeremy...I know your mom is so very proud of you but just know that THIS mom is very proud of you too. I'm going to brag about you today. We have a birthday party to go to this afternoon and EVERYONE is going to hear about you!
What a wonderful young man you are!
Posted by: rileysmom | June 12, 2010 at 12:55 PM
It is inspiring!
Good luck in a college atmosphere.
Our success was because first of all my son wanted it.
Second reason for success it was a community college setting, and he has support from home.
Third: two professors at the college took him under their wing???? I did not know them but met them the first day there.
Sometimes I think God sent them and they are not men but angels in disguise.
And ther fourth reason: we never got in any hurry about how many classes he took or when he would complete his 2 year degree. This year is his fifth year.
Posted by: Benedetta | June 12, 2010 at 10:25 AM
Congratulations Jeremy on your graduation, you GPA,and wonderful speech. I know your family is very proud. And are we! Great job Jeremy!
Posted by: Lisa @ TACA | June 12, 2010 at 10:08 AM
Amazing Jeremy and we are all rooting for you. Our son Nicholas is also graduating today, something that we had only dream could transpire.
When he walks that stage today though he will show his entire class and those in attendance that individuals with ASD are determined, have abilities, and like them...have dreams as well.
Congrats to all of this year's graduates and their families and to all of the parents out there please never give up. There are so, so many possibilities for our children, we just have to ensure those doors and paths to success are open.
Posted by: Carolyn Gammicchia | June 12, 2010 at 09:53 AM
Jeremy should be so very proud of himself, he has jumped a crack that swallows up so many of America's youth. Bravo !
Posted by: bensmyson | June 12, 2010 at 09:27 AM
CONGRATULATIONS Jeremy, Chantal and family! How wonderful. What an inspriation.
Posted by: Theresa Cedillo | June 12, 2010 at 08:59 AM
What a strong and vibrant young man!
Jeremy, thank you for sharing your story. Please ask your mom to video tape your commencement speech and post on AoA! I would love to share it with parents who have lost hope. You HAVE inspired others of the dream to never give up.
Thank god there are people like you who step into the light and shine down upon us all.
So much gratitude,
Posted by: Jacey | June 12, 2010 at 08:20 AM
This is very inspiring.
Congratulations to the Sicile-Kira family!
Posted by: JenB | June 12, 2010 at 06:08 AM