Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Sam Allen: Student Success Story

07/01/2017 | Published by: Becky Tarwater

School was not always easy for Sam Allen. Crowded hallways were hard to navigate. He didn’t always “get” the social cues of other students and teachers. He was often anxious and stressed. He was happy to just be left alone. The best time of his day was getting home. 

His struggles stemmed from a diagnosis of high-functioning autism/Asperger syndrome.

Sam is the son of Herb and Jennifer Allen of San Antonio. He went to NEISD schools through graduation. He attended Hardy Oak and Wilderness Oak Elementary, Lopez Middle School, and Reagan High School. He graduated from Reagan in 2013. 

Sam inspired his mom, Jennifer, to find ways to help other people facing autism. She created a super-hero cartoon character based on Sam. Jennifer also produced a DVD, “Coping to Excelling:  Solutions for School-age Children Diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism/Asperger Syndrome,” featuring Sam and his struggles in the school setting. The DVD became a tool for students, families, and teachers to understand Asperger syndrome. 

After graduating from high school, Sam really came into his own. He enrolled at Northeast Lakeview College in San Antonio. He also became an advocate for persons with high-functioning autism/Asperger’s Syndrome. Through his advocacy, Sam spoke about his experiences with his disability and the school system. Even with a busy school schedule, Sam found time for helping others through many outreach activities, including:

  • Spokesman for Asperger 101 “Driving with Autism” initiative with Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Speaking at the Texas State Autism Conference several times
  • Presenting a talk about getting through his school-age years at Tapestry Conference two different years
  • Speaking to education majors on living with autism/Asperger syndrome
  • Writing a weekly blog for Aspergers101.org

He also presented, along with Dr. Temple Grandin and Texas DPS, the poster, “Increasing Law Enforcement Officer Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders” at the Texas Psychological Association. 

Sam hopes one day to work in the field of Information Technology (IT). He thinks he might even be able to lead his own team. Sam loves “tinkering” with electronics. When asked about his greatest accomplishment, he said, “I have to say that my biggest accomplishment so far is building two custom desktop computers from scratch.” Sam also likes playing video games on his PC and taking long walks. 

Sam was asked about what led to his success. Without hesitation, he replied, “One factor that led to my success was my family. They’ve not given up on me one bit during my time in high school.” Sam’s family gave him the determination to succeed. He really is a Student Success Story! Strong independence skills helped Sam succeed. 

Here is information about building independence and self-advocacy.

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