Autistic Student Receives Compassionate Silent Ovation


At the end of high school, every child looks forward to that epic moment of cheering from friends and family as the graduate. Silence is not expected.

Usually, silence in the room indicates a lack of support for a student or specific graduation rules designed to maintain silent. However, Carmel High School students in New York held an extraordinary silence in appreciation for their autistic, schoolmate.

At this moment, the student decided to maintain silent to meet his unique needs.

Moments of Silence

The student, Jack Higgins, comes from a very supportive family who understands that he is very sensitive to loud noises. His parents, Pat and Barbar Higgins, along with his siblings, tried to think of different ways to accommodate him during his graduation.

They decided to have a discussion with one of his teachers and the school principal, Mr. Riolo, came up with the idea of encouraging complete silence as Jack collected his diploma.

Mr. Riolo complements the students at the school as one of the most compassionate group of children he has ever met in his teaching career.

Heartwarming Support from The Students

The students favored the idea and decided to participate in the silence and spread awareness by letting their supporters know about the moment of silence for Jack.

The staff was very supportive of the idea of accommodating Jack’s condition by maintaining secrecy while he walked across the stage. The graduation class also showed immense enthusiasm for the purpose.

Mr. Riolo gained the confidence to move forward with the idea, and Jack’s parents were pleased to know their son would be appreciated at this moment.

How Autism Affect Teens

The demands of being in high school can affect any teen, students are under pressure to perform well, and their schedule is generally demanding. An autistic teen requires a lot more attention and support from their family and their school.

Attending a ‘regular’ school presents its challenges, and clearly, the children at Carmel High School were sensitized to the fact that Jack has autism. Reaching the milestone of his graduation inevitably came with a lot of challenges.

Thanks to the support of a one-on-one teacher, Jack managed focused on his schooling.

Silence Speaks Louder Than Words

This is a day that will surely go down in the history books of the New York-based high school. Jake had support from his two brothers who walked him on the stage and stood by his side.

His one-on-one teacher also joined him on the stage. Expecting a thunderous noise, Jake covered his ears. To his surprise, the silence was maintained. Most of the students stood in silence while other clapping in American Sign Language.

This touching moment certainly made the moment better for the young man who will always be reminded of the support and selflessness of his graduation classmates on that day.

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