Success Story

After autism diagnosis, this student graduated as valedictorian earning school’s highest GPA ever

Nicholas Watson was diagnosed with autism and ADHD but he did not let that define him. The young man from Arkansas was told that would not even be able to read and comprehend math but he defied the odds and recently graduated at Arkansas High School as valedictorian.

He earned the highest grade point average in the school’s history with a 4.8, ArkLaTex reported in May. Watson also received over $1.5 million dollars in scholarship offers and was accepted to 45 different universities across the United States.

“Overall, I’m just grateful to have an opportunity to be where I am right now because I wasn’t ever meant to be here,” Watson told ArkLaTex. “Besides autism and ADHD, they said I wasn’t ever going to comprehend, read, math all of that.”

But Watson believed that he could do it. And he did as he was able to read and do math and even participated in various sports such as soccer, cross country, basketball and track. ArkLaTex reported in May that Watson signed a scholarship to continue his basketball career at Harding University, in Searcy, Arkansas, adding that he will be entering campus with 64 college credits majoring in Electrical Engineering.

What’s more, he was selected as a mentor by the university to coach youth basketball. “No matter what limitations or restrictions that you have been given, conditions or anything that tries to hinder you just try to overachieve that and go to a goal that you want to achieve,” said Watson.

His mom Marian Watson is so proud of him for overcoming all the challenges that came his way to make it. “So I don’t even know if I would say obstacles because whatever you ask of him he just did it,” Marian said.

Watson, who has described himself as a “hands-on type of guy”, said he would want to make electronic devices at some time in the future and go to big places like Google and Tesla.

Autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), is a disability that affects people’s senses and how they communicate with others. Those diagnosed with ASD may have trouble expressing themselves in full; they experience mood disorders, engage in repetitive behaviors and have problems sleeping.

Despite having a disorder that significantly impacts them, individuals like Watson do not let their condition define the quality of their lives.

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor is a writer and content creator. She loves writing about health and women's issues in Africa and the African diaspora.

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