My Great American Autism Success Story
My name is Louis Scarantino. I was born in the ’90s and diagnosed with autism at 2 and a half years old. I couldn’t speak until I was 5 and had an abnormal childhood. When I started school, my mom, along with a counseling center I went to for support, did many things to help me get to where I am today.
My high school life was tough. I was bullied by a special education teacher who didn’t understand me, as well as by a school principal. I got my first job in high school at a Burger King, winning Employee of the Month three times. Once, I attended an Elton John concert and unexpectedly landed front-row seats and an autograph. Those were my only great memories of high school.
I attended a community college 40 minutes away from home, commuting by car five days a week to better myself. I got all A’s and Bs, even though I was hard on myself most of the time and always wanted to quit. I finished in four years, got an award in my major of Office Information Technology, and graduated cum laude.
I became a big fan of country and pop singer Shania Twain through a college girlfriend. I dreamed of meeting Twain after college, so I attended a show of hers in Las Vegas in 2013, knowing some lucky fans were going to be brought on stage. During the show, she came into the audience to hug fans and shake hands while singing “Any Man of Mine,” and I got a hug. Later in the show, she called some fans to the stage. I went down from the 11th row and told Twain I was from Pennsylvania. She brought me up by saying, “Come on up here, Pennsylvania.”
I told the audience I had autism. Twain was shocked, but told me I was fine and gave me another hug. She took my hand and invited me to sit next to her on stage! She asked me my name before she sang “Today is Your Day.”
That moment made me more passionate about life. I now feel successful working as a Photo Tech at a DMV location. In that capacity, I’ve received three different honors, including a state award I attended a dinner for.
I hope to do many more great things on the autism spectrum and hopefully get a film made about my life. Anything is possible for anyone who has autism if you follow your dreams.