Chicago Tribune: Autism no obstacle for boy, 13, handling duties at former teacher’s wedding

Dressed in a freshly starched tux with a pale pink tie, Will McCall tapped the microphone, looked at the audience and began reciting the John Lennon lyrics chosen by the bride and groom.

He had practiced for days, memorized a sheet of instructions, and now the moment had come.

“Grow old along with me/ The best is yet to be/ When our time has come/ We will be as one

At 13, the Glencoe boy just wants to be like everyone else. He hates the word “autism,” a condition that has often kept him in separate classrooms and schools. So he was elated when asked to be in the wedding of his former teacher and baby sitter, Melissa Newman.

While people with autism often struggle socially, Will thrives around other people and has come a long way since Newman met him at age 4, when he used to hide from family members, she said.

“He’s grown up a lot in the past year,” Newman, 33,of Wheeling said. “He can be proud and comfortable instead of being scared.”

This month,Will and his sister, Taylor, 11, walked down the aisle as a junior groomsman and junior bridesmaid at Newman’s wedding to Benjamin Burke in Lincolnshire.

Will’s parents were nervous and excited about their son’s role — and admittedly relieved that he read the lyrics without too much embellishment.

“He might decide to sing a song,” his father, Chip McCall, said later. “I am glad he stuck with the script.”

At Will’s tux fitting a few days earlier, he admired himself in the mirror. “I am very handsome,” he murmured, then asked his mother, “Can I wear this when we get home?”

read more