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Student with autism inspires with Eagle Scout achievement

Timmy working with a speech language pathologist at the Lerner School. Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic.

Timmy Hargate was diagnosed at an early age with autism and an extreme speech delay.

Thanks to years of hard work and the help of dedicated professionals, he is now an Eagle Scout.

At age 7, Timmy enrolled at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Lerner School for Autism. The school uses treatment based on applied behavioral analysis in an educational setting to serve students from the age of earliest diagnosis through 21.

He gradually learned how to communicate with a speech-generating device that allows him to type in words or pre-programmed responses on an iPad.

Timmy’s father, Ed, says Timmy is “very smart and he understands what people are saying to him. He’s just not able to verbally communicate very well without a speech-generating device.”

At age 11, he joined Troop 461. Over the years, he moved up the ranks, culminating with the completion of his Eagle Scout service project earlier this year.

Timmy is 20 and earned the highest rank in Scouting through the BSA’s rules concerning advancement for members with special needs.

“The school and Scouts are his two principal activities, and they keep him busy,” says Ed. “Lerner School has really helped him learn how to communicate with his peers and adults, and being in Troop 461 has done a lot for his socialization skills.”

Timmy’s project

The project Timmy chose was certainly not an easy one. He planned, organized and managed the annual summer field day event for the students at the Lerner School.

Timmy, front and center, standing with other members of Troop 261, hopes to eventually become an adult leader in his troop. Photo courtesy of Ed Hargate.

Timmy worked with his teachers over a period of several weeks to select activities and games that would be appropriate for his fellow students. He recruited fellow Scouts to be responsible for each activity. He marketed the event by creating posters, supervised the setup process on the day of the event, oversaw the management of all activities on the big day and supervised tear-down when it was over.

In short, it was everything you would expect of an Eagle Scout service project.

“I am so proud of Timmy and happy to be a part of his accomplishments,” says Phoebe Mason, a speech language pathologist at the Lerner School. “He’s made so much progress over the years, and has become a real leader at the school and in Scouting.”

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