• Student with autism who rarely speaks gives inspirational graduation speech

    By: USA Today


    Sef Scott knew he was about to do something unexpected when he addressed the senior class of Plano Senior High at a graduation ceremony on June 9 in Frisco, Texas.

    Normally, he doesn't choose to speak, he told a crowd gathered in a sports arena that seats thousands. That's because he is a student with learning differences: autism and a social communication disorder, he said.

    But he came prepared to do something unexpected. 

    He spoke for about six minutes, giving an inspirational, uplifting message: Defy expectations, live the life you want to live and surprise the world with kindness.

    A video of the speech was posted to the Plano Independent School District's YouTube page.

    He peppered the speech with jokes, at one point musing: “Yes, I have autism, but I am also a smart aleck. Unexpected, right?”

    The crowd erupted into applause.

    He said he was inspired by his brother — a brain tumor survivor who frequently does speeches to raise money.

    Sef said he worked with family to craft his graduation speech word-by-word. He wanted to inspire people in the audience to follow his example: Do the unexpected.

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    June 9: A valedictorian went off-script to talk about sexual assault. Then her school cut her mic.

    That can be done in the little things, he said: Let people cut in line; donate tickets you don’t need; say “thank you” to the grocery bagger.

    Or it can be done in the big things: Charting your own course in life when others have different plans for you.

    “Are your next steps where you want to go?" he asked. “Don’t follow someone else’s dreams … do the unexpected.”


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