Autistic Salutatorian Delivers High School Graduation Speech

Rhode Island High Schooler Leads Class Despite Speech Struggle

Bradley Blackburn
ABCNews.com
6/16/2010

Eric Duquette is the salutatorian of his high school, an honor student, a musician, and he has autism.

The 18-year-old Duquette, who couldn’t say a word until age five, gave the commencement speech at his high school graduation ceremony Tuesday night in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

“My parents were told I would most likely end up in an institution,” said Duquette. “I stand before you accepted into every institution of higher learning I applied to.”

He stood at the podium wearing a green cap and gown and a big grin on his face. His speech, funny and touching, was met with enthusiastic applause from his peers.

Duquette graduated from Smithfield High School with the second-highest grade point average in a class of just under 200 students. He will attend Rhode Island College in the fall, with plans to study biology and eventually become a pharmacist.

“Tonight is all about reflection and looking forward to the journeys that lie ahead of us,” he said.

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