Student with autism gives moving graduation speech

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PLANO, Texas — It was six minutes nobody at the Plano Senior High School graduation saw coming.

Sef Scott, a graduating senior with autism, delivered the commencement address. It was a big deal since Sef is usually non-verbal and most members of his class had never heard him speak.

“Unexpected. That is what I want you to remember,” he started his speech.

Scott said that he was inspired to speak by his brother. He is a brain tumor survivor who frequently gives speeches to raise money for various children’s charities.

“People heard me,” Sef told WFAA of his speech.

“He knows exactly what’s going on around him, but he doesn’t engage,” Vicki Scott, Sef’s mother, told WFAA. “Something about his spectrum doesn’t allow him to have the back and forth like you and I are.”

But when Vicki asked Sef if he wanted to audition to speak, she was surprised as his reaction.

“I jumped up and said ‘yes’ right away,” Sef told WFAA.

In his speech, Sef explained why he was such an unexpected choice for speaker.

“I have autism and a social communication disorder,” he said. “While I have the vocabulary that you do, and I have the ability the ability to physically produce spoken word, it is not a normal thing for me to electively speak.”

“Just by my being here speaking to all of you, me, that alone is unexpected,” he said.

Sef said he worked with his mother and brother “sentence-by-sentence to make his voice heard.”

He also spoke about how his fellow classmates fit into more than one of the categories students are usually given — like athletes, scholars, musicians, and class clowns.

“All of us have plenty about us that makes us all unique,” he said. “What a wonderful mix.”

Sef said all of the students had one thing in common. “We all made it.”

“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 gown,” he explained. “Yes, I have autism. But I am also a smart aleck. Unexpected, right?”

The entire crowd laughed and cheered at his joke.

He urged his classmates to do unexpected things to make life better for others.

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

Sef also told his classmates to follow their own path. Not the path others want them to take.

“Don’t follow someone else dreams. Don’t waste time on something you never wanted. Do the unexpected. It is your life that you are living. Not anyone else’s. Do what fulfills you.”

He ended with a powerful message.

“Be the unexpected like me. Do the unexpected for the benefit of others. Live the unexpected for your own happiness,” he said. “Congratulations to the Plano Senior High School graduating class of 2018. Best wishes to you all.”

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