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Texas high school graduate with nonverbal autism surprises classmates with speech at graduation

Sef Scott, a Texas teen with nonverbal autism, gave an unexpected speech at his high school graduation. (Image source: Video screenshot)

A Texas teenager surprised his classmates over the weekend when he stood in front of his graduating class and gave a moving speech at his commencement ceremony.

While it's not unusual for top graduates to address their fellow students, it was unexpected for Sef Scott because he has nonverbal autism.

What did he say?

“Unexpected. That is what I want you to remember. Unexpected. First and foremost, I would imagine that it is entirely, I would imagine to the seniors that know who I am that it is entirely unexpected that I would be standing here giving this speech," Scott started his message.

“My name is Sef Scott and I am a student with learning differences. To be more specific, I have autism and a social communication disorder," he continued. "While I have the ability, while I have the vocabulary that you do, and I have the ability to physically produce spoken words, it is a not normal thing for me to electively speak. Just by my being here speaking to all of you, me, that alone is unexpected."

The Plano Senior High School graduate explained that he was inspired by his brother, a brain tumor survivor who gives speeches to raise money for children's charities.

Together with his brother and mother, they prepared the graduation speech.

"We worked sentence by sentence to make my voice heard," Scott said, adding that he wanted his voice to be heard.

What else?

Scott also dispersed bits of humor throughout his message.

“We all share one thing in common for sure. We all made it,” he told his classmates. “And how do I know that? Well, it’s kind of obvious. You’re all right here with me at a graduation ceremony wearing those caps and gowns. Yes, I have autism, but I am also a smart alec. Unexpected, right?”

The teen reminded the audience that everyone has opportunities to do something unexpected and that anyone can easily be a "blessing" to someone who might be having a "gloomy day."

"Unexpected. Bought two tickets to a concert, months in advance, and something comes up preventing you from going? Why not donate your tickets to an organization like Hope Kids so a family with a sick kid can go instead," Scott suggested. "Unexpected. Say, 'thank you, for doing a great job' to the special needs individual who bagged up your groceries in the checkout line at Kroger."

“You can sprinkle unexpected moments throughout your everyday life that can benefit those around you with very little effort on your part,” he said.

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