Top 10 Students at Durfee High School Are Not Limited by Autism Diagnosis
FALL RIVER – One of the top students in the 2021 class at BMC Durfee High School said he was living proof that a diagnosis of autism is not an insurmountable barrier to great achievement.
“There is an unfortunate tendency that people associate autism with the fact that it is a bad thing. But my point is… being on the autism spectrum alone doesn’t mean I’m having trouble functioning, ”said Lev Elber, who last week graduated from Durfee and ranked. 10th in its class of around 500 students.
Lev was diagnosed with autism shortly after he and his parents, Shoshana Brown and Mark Elber moved to Fall River in 2013.
After: Hanukkah at Fall River Zooming Live Courtesy of Temple Beth El
For years, he struggled with behavioral issues such as outbursts and overreacting to things, and sometimes has trouble concentrating in class. His last year was difficult as he took courses entirely from a distance, which sometimes made it difficult to concentrate.
But, Lev said, he’s made great strides in recent years in exercising self-control and being able to focus on his schoolwork. In the end, he took the honors and advanced courses at Durfee.
After: Meet BMC Durfee High School’s Top 10 Students in the Class of 2021
“Even when I’m not the most confident in what I’ve done, I can still do it,” he said.
And, Lev said, getting top marks was an important way to prepare for future success. Next fall, he plans to specialize in creative media at Champlain College. He loves cinema and although he’s not sure what career he would like to have in the future, he is particularly interested in animation, game design and programming.
And in the meantime, Lev has said he wants to make people realize that being autistic isn’t necessarily a limitation on what they can accomplish. Famous people like environmental activist Greta Thunberg and entrepreneur Elon Musk have said they are on the spectrum, he said.
“It’s not necessarily a problem… people have to stop thinking about it like it’s a bad thing,” he said.
Brown said his son’s diagnosis could be a “superpower” in disguise. Some people with autism are very focused on specific areas of expertise, ”she said.
“It allows them to do things like make an electric car or learn about the theory of relativity,” she said, referring to Musk and Albert Einstein, who some historians believe may also be on the spectrum of the ‘autism. “Certain types of intelligence are needed to make inroads.”
Audrey Cooney can be reached at [email protected]. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.