(CBS) – One by one, Woody Brown points to the letters on his writing board, his mom, Mary right next to him to translate what’s on his heart and mind.
Brown was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old, and will make history next month when he graduates as the first nonverbal student to not only attend UCLA but to also graduate from the university. The 24-year-old English major earned the university’s highest writing honors, according to CBS LA.
While the journey was not easy, Brown said he achieved this amazing feat thanks to being organized and disciplined. He hopes his accomplishments prove that non-speakers should not be counted out.
According to his family, Brown did not get the support to excel in the classroom until he was in seventh grade.
“I thought there’s got to be a way to show that he can learn,” said .”And so that’s what I spend his childhood doing — teaching him, reading to him and trying to figure out how to get the people at the school to recognize he was a true learner.”
Despite the obstacles, Brown earned a high school diploma before attending Pasadena City College and now he will receive summa cum laude honors from UCLA.
He said he plans to use his passion for creative writing to share stories about people like him who defy the odds each day.