Student with Autism Graduates as Class Valedictorian on Long Island

Between the stages of childhood and adolescence, there will be a lot of factors that will make you doubt yourself — hindering you from reaching your highest potential. Your doubts could be because of environmental influence or lack of confidence. Doubts develop even more if diagnosed with a medical condition at a young age; your hope for a bright future becomes blurred.

Photo: Youtube/CBS New York

For instance, being diagnosed with severe autism is a complication that affects the person until adulthood. Nevertheless, a seventeen-year-old from Long Island defied the odds. Joseph Falco Jr. did not let autism stop him from leading the life he wanted to have. At a very young age, Joseph was diagnosed with low-functioning autism. According to his doctor, he was also withdrawn and nonverbal — he might never speak again. It was difficult to accept, especially for his parents. Joseph’s mother applied him to an early intervention speech and special education classes. The family was eager to help Joseph and give him a chance in life.

Photo: Youtube/CBS New York

The impossible became possible — autism did not have the power over Joseph. Last June in Long Island, Joseph Falco graduated from high school. Joseph wasn’t just able to finish high school; he was the valedictorian of Copiague High School batch 2022. His story made the graduation ceremony even more inspiring, conveying a message for people not to give up — whatever the circumstances. “I’ve been able to become valedictorian, but everybody deserves at least a tiny bit of a chance to show what they’re made of,” says Joseph.

The fresh graduate valedictorian is now diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Joseph’s hard work and persistence were able to help him change his future that once was expected to be a blank. His experience must be shared with people with or without autism — anyone going through self-doubt should hear a story that will inspire them. Despite difficulties communicating with others, Joseph pushed through and attended therapy to learn social cues. He made efforts to defy the hindering factors of his life.

Photo: Youtube/CBS New York

Aside from graduating as class valedictorian, Joseph also participated in extracurricular activities. He participated in theater projects and founded the high school debate club. Joseph did not let himself miss out on any opportunity that came in life just because of autism. His mother also did not give up on him and even conveyed a message to other parents with the same experience. She advised that kids like Joseph shouldn’t be left out because you’ll never know what might happen.

Joseph left a message for people in the same situation and said, “I don’t think you should see your disability as a disability. It’s not your weakness. For all of us, it’s our superpower, and it’s what makes us strong and unique.” According to reports, the inspiring valedictorian plans to attend Hofstra University and pursue a career in cyber security with the FBI. You can watch the full interview from CBS New York by clicking the video below.

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