Written by Emily Anthes
On May 22, 2014, Lindsey Eaton took the stage at the Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona. The petite blond high school senior loved writing and public speaking, and she had long dreamed of giving an address at her graduation. The moment had finally arrived. She stepped up to the microphone and delivered the speech she’d been practicing for months. “I have autism, which means I have a diagnosis of awesomeness,” she told the crowd, to cheers and applause. “I want to thank each and every member of the faculty and every graduating student for seeing in me possibilities, not disabilities.”
It was a triumphant moment, but the high faded fast. On the ride home from the ceremony, Eaton broke down in tears. Her classmates were all on their way to celebratory after-parties and then, in a few months, to college. She was headed home with her parents, with no clear plan for the future. All sorts of worries ran through her mind: How was she going to find a job? An apartment? Would she be able to live on her own?
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