Autism can’t keep teenager down Prattville Progress April 22, 2009
Karen Willis teaches others about the challenges of her disorder
By Hamilton Richardson
To recognize the month of April as Autism Awareness Month, on April 3 local homeschool student Karen Willis gave a presentation to the Elmore County Homeschool Organization (ECHO) on how to better understand autism.
What made the presentation more meaningful is that Willis was diagnosed with autism herself at a young age.
“We started home-schooling her because of her special needs. The public school wasn’t well-equipped,” said Willis’ mother, Cheryl. “Autism is such a broad spectrum, the teachers didn’t have the training. They assumed she was mentally retarded.”
In fact, according to Willis, her daughter needed understanding and a more personalized education.
Besides preparing this speech, Karen earned her driver’s license, helps out at church, and “is asking many questions of her parents about a job, college, and steps that she needs to take to be independent”.
Looks like this teenager is well on her way.