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By Beth Anspach, Contributing Writer 3:07 PM Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Cassie LeDuc graduated from Stebbins High School this year after spending her junior and senior year there. Prior to moving to Ohio, she lived two years in Italy and, like most military kids, has seen a lot of the world.


“My mom is a retired Air Force officer and worked as an operating room nurse,” LeDuc said. “I was born into a military family, and have visited just about every European country and have lived all over the United States.”


It’s also the life LeDuc wanted for herself as an adult. Which is why she decided to enroll in the AFJROTC program in high school her freshman year in Italy. And though she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, at the age of 15, LeDuc excelled academically and continued to plan for a future in military service.


“My mom was transferred to Wright Patterson and I was pretty nervous about coming to America, but excited too because I would be graduating from high school in the States,” LeDuc said.


LeDuc’s Asperger’s never held her back. “The diagnosis helped me understand why I went from having a bunch of friends to having very few friends,” she said. Asperger’s is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and, according to LeDuc, most people with the syndrome have higher levels of intelligence. “I never had any problems in school,” LeDuc said. “I always had an ability to comprehend things much faster and most people, including my teachers, would never know anything was wrong with me.”


As LeDuc progressed through her two years at Stebbins in the ROTC program and flourished, her academic successes made her eligible for a full Navy ROTC scholarship. She graduated with a 3.81 grade point average and, as a result, was awarded the scholarship.


“I had decided to attend Norwich University in Vermont to study physics,” LeDuc, who had planned a career in the Navy, said. But within a few weeks she received notification that her scholarship was being revoked due to medical reasons since no branch of the military will take an Asperger’s patient.


“It was very disappointing,” LeDuc said. And though LeDuc suspected her Asperger’s might disqualify her, she had been working to get a waiver earlier in the school year and she does have a back-up plan.


“I’m attending Wright State University in the fall to study nursing,” LeDuc said. “I know the military needs nurses, and if have my degree in nursing my hope is that I will get my waiver.”


Source:

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/community/dayton/local-grad-hopes-to-join-military-despite-autism-diagnosis-1190264.html?cxtype=rss_dayton



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