The parents of Rhode Island high school student Eric Duquette were told their son would end up in an institution.
Instead, Duquette went on to become salutatorian of his high school class -- and was accepted at every college to which he applied, ABC News reports.
Duquette was diagnosed with autism at an early age and didn't talk until he was five. His mother worked with him to learn to talk, even teaching him sign language. Today, Duquette speaks English and Spanish.
And addressing his classmates this week, Duquette inspired his peers with wise words.
"Daniel Webster wrote that 'if my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest,'" Duquette said. "For me, learning to communicate did mean regaining all the rest."
Duquette will start at Rhode Island College in the fall.