Typically Nonverbal High School Senior with Autism Gives Graduation Speech: 'Do the Unexpected'
A high school senior in Texas delivered a powerful six-minute graduation speech on June 9, earning applause and cheers from his classmates. The impressive speech was particularly special for the teen’s friends and family though, because he normally doesn’t speak.
Sef Scott, who attends Plano Senior High in Fesno, Texas, has autism and is mostly nonverbal, he explained during his address, which was shared online by the Plano Independent School District.
Scott’s message for his classmates? Do the unexpected and happiness will follow.
“My brother Sam is a nine-year brain tumor survivor who has given dozens of speeches to raise money for various children’s charities since 2009,” Scott said. “So with his help and that of my mother, we worked sentence by sentence to make my voice heard knowing that I want to be heard.”
Scott told his classmates that doing the unexpected “can be a blessing to those around you.”
“You can sprinkle unexpected moments throughout your everyday life that can benefit those around you with very little effort on your part,” he said, citing examples like giving up your table at a restaurant to someone else who’s waiting.
He also encouraged his classmates to follow any path they want to pursue.
“Some of you might have your outline for life already written in pen,” he said. “You have known since you learned to walk where it is you want to go in life. Some of you can’t imagine having plans worked out any further than breakfast tomorrow and instead chose to live in the moment. I think thought that the majority of us live in a big pie wedge between those.”
Scott then asked his fellow graduates, “Are your next steps beyond tonight yours or are they what you believe those around you expect you to take?”
If they’re not yours, he said, “then step off that path” and “don’t follow someone else’s dreams.”
Scott’s speech earned him cheers and applause, as he reminded everyone, “It is your life that you’re living, not anyone else’s. So do what fulfills you. Don’t fear the future. Don’t fear the unknown. Will it be unexpected? Yes, yes it will. But that does not make it wrong.”
The teen concluded, “Be the unexpected like me.”
Speaking to WFAA, Scott’s mom Vicki Scott said that though her son “knows exactly what’s going on around him,” something “about his spectrum doesn’t allow him to have the back, and forth.”
Still, she said she encouraged him to audition to speak at the commencement, which he was excited about. She told the outlet, “Our goal was to have his voice heard in whatever way he could manage and so many people have taken away so much more than I ever expected. It affected me so profoundly. I could hear all around me, other people were crying, too.”