“Kids can be cruel about what they don’t understand
and at times I was tormented for it.”
In 2006 it wasn’t clear if Devon Nelson would be able to attend school. Five years old and unable to verbally communicate, Devon, born with severe autism, struggled with day-to-day function.
Frustrated with the medical community, his mother turned to holistic and nutritional treatments. In a seemingly impossible turn of events, Devon began showing drastic signs of development in short time.
Through the perseverance of his family, Devon traveled a long road of struggle and challenges. He endured bullies, found his passions and didn’t just graduate high school – he is off to college with on a grant.
Passionate about music, Devon writes songs that challenge traditional perceptions and pushes back against stereotypes surrounding his condition.
“I never thought I would get into college… I have Autism and in the early stages of my diagnosis I was severe on the spectrum. My mom quit her job to commit to my therapy and by first grade I started responding to treatment.
Eventually I was mainstreamed into a regular classroom in sixth grade without an IEP or Individualized Education Program. This was a huge accomplishment for me but I would face new challenges in a classroom with my peers.
Kids can be cruel about what they don’t understand and at times I was tormented for it. Learning to accept myself despite what others thought or said was a lesson I will never forget.
I am weird. Weird for technology! I embrace the fact that my Autism allows me to hyper focus on something of interest. It gives me an edge and I want to use that to pursue a career in game design at the University of Advancing Technology in Arizona.
I hope to inspire other teens on the spectrum to pursue their passion and tell the world we have something special to offer given the opportunity. I can think of no better way to say thank you to my family for all the love, support, and sacrifice than to earn my degree.”
Read Devon’s nomination story below, through the voice of his nominator and dedicated grandmother.