Damien was diagnosed with autism when he was 16 months of age. The early diagnosis was due to his younger brother developing speech earlier than Damien. When Damien was first diagnosed, he was considered low-functioning.

The low-functioning diagnosis stuck with Damien for several years, as it was not until he was 12 years of age that his diagnosis was changed from low to high-functioning. Contrary to American Psychology Association beliefs, Damien has moved up the autism spectrum as well as the IQ scale.

For a matter of fact, his psychologist has stated that the only thing that has kept Damien from being considered a person with Asperger's Syndrome is the fact that he had a speech delay. Damien did not speak until he was 3 1/2 years of age.

I attribute Damien's success to two things:

  1. I have never treated him different than I treat the other children I have cared for.
  2. Damien has insisted on being treated the same as the other students at school.

Damien has always insisted on doing the same work as his peers. I feel his persistence to be accepted into his peer group is what has moved Damien from segregated special education to inclusive special education.

Damien has volunteered to work at the local zoo for the last four years. He works in the reptile, creepy crawly, birds, and horticulture departments.

Damien is now 17 years of age. He is a junior at Cooper High School, and he works on the school newspaper, The Cooper Crest. It is Damien's third year on the paper. Damien has many acquaintances, though he still has difficulty maintaining appropriate social relationships.

Damien is a writer and photographer. He has a unique perspective that can be seen in his literature and his photographs.

Damien is a caring and loving brother, son, and master of his cat, Princess.

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