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By Ben Bauman

Published May 16, 2010

— It’s graduation time, and for parents and students – that means change. Part of the Shawnee Heights graduating class of 2010 is 18-year old Ben Berlin.

Berlin was diagnosed autistic at age 5. Asperger’s syndrome is a mild form, and those with usually have average or above average intelligence and language skills, but often struggle with social skills or repetitive behavior.

“When he was little he had a lot more autistic tendency,” said Ben’s mother, Mari White. “He spun, he rocked.”

Ben’s mother became his advocate, learning all she could about Asperger’s syndrome, educating herself and sometimes Ben’s doctors.

“I stumbled upon a way to look at what he’s good at and at his strengths and stop focusing on what he can’t do. And that opened up so many doors,” she said.

And the doors have opened. Ben has served as a congressional page and traveled to Europe last summer with People to People.

“I got a lot of media attention because I was the first person with a disability to go on those programs,” Ben said.

Ben says he doesn’t consider himself disabled, and credits his much of his growth to the Shawnee Heights Naval Junior ROTC.

“It’s changed me more than physically,” he said. “It’s change me in a lot of other ways. I now get along with my peers a lot better than I did.”

Read in Full:  http://www.ktka.com/news/2010/may/16/bens-people-ben-berlin/



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