Sunday, August 4, 2013

Eli Suggs

Autism Light #296 is Eli Suggs.

Eli Suggs is a 13 year old from Santa Clarita, California who has autism. On June 15, 2012, he gave an inspiring speech at his promotion from 6th Grade at Pine Tree Elementary School in Canyon Country, California. Eli Suggs is an Autism Light for his representation of the accomplishments one with autism can obtain through school.

Eli is your typical boy with many of the same interests and hobbies as others. Eli has two cats. He has a grey one named Burpie and a red one named Redmond.  He makes things with Legos and makes movies with his creations. He enjoys swimming, watching television, playing video games such as Little Big Planet 1 and 2, and doing outdoor activities with his family (note photo in this post of Eli rock climbing). Eli Suggs is also a member of the Boy Scouts, and completed the Arrow of Light in Webelos.

Eli Suggs Rock Climbing (July 24, 2013)
The speech that Eli Suggs gave for his 6th grade graduation is spreading autism awareness as it goes viral. The Huffington Post asked on their Facebook page, "Who inspires you to be a better person?" Eli's mother responded with the video and the statement, "My son." It stood out and The Huffington Post published an article about Eli's speech in their online news site.  You can read it at this link.

The following is a video of the 6th grade speech that Eli Suggs made that went viral. As of the date of publication of this post it has been viewed 18,633 times. Everyone in Eli's 6th grade was invited to prepare a speech and audition to speak at their graduation. Eli's speech on the subject of having autism was selected.

The closing part of Eli's inspirational speech communicated the following message:
As we leave here today I have a challenge for all of you. We are all different. Not less, just different. We all have things we're good at, things we need to work on, and things we need help with. Whenever you see someone else who is different, instead of just judging them or being a bully, I challenge you to offer help and treat that person with the kindness you have shown me over the last six years. Remember, all of you can make a difference in someone's life. You've already made a difference in mine (Source).
Autism Light asked Eli if he had any advice for other students with autism. He said, "I guess my advice is to try not to let something difficult get to you. Just do your best and keep trying." Eli Suggs has taken his own advice and won the following awards in elementary school.
  • 1st Place for a Movie He Made (with Legos) on the topic of diversity.
  • 2nd and 3rd place for Photographs he took.
  • Most Improved Reading in 6th Grade.
  • 1st Place in a 50 Yard Dash.
  • 4th Place in a 100 Yard Dash.
  • 5th Place for Distance in Throwing a Softball.
The most improved in reading award was an amazing accomplishment for Eli who needed to bring his reading level up to 6th grade. Eli said, "I don't really like to read but I know it's something I have to do, so I just do it.

Special thanks to Eli Suggs for being an Autism Light. Eli is an example that despite the challenges of growing up with autism, one can improve and make a difference as an elementary student. We look forward to hearing more amazing things about Eli as he journey's through high school and life.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photo of Eli Suggs in this post is used with the permission of Eli's mother, Shannon Rosenberg.

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