HAHNVILLE - Some children with autism disappear inside the disability and are rendered helpless in society long before they reach age 21, but Ron Davis, an adult suffering with the disorder, received a certificate of achievement from Hahnville High School, got his drivers’ license, and will begin working towards his General Education Diploma next year.
When Davis was just 2 years old, Children's Hospital in New Orleans broke the news to his grandmother, Wanda Joseph-Davis, and his mother, Melanie Davis.
"I'll never forget the day we found out. He was just a baby and I noticed he was different,” Wanda tells the Herald-Guide.
“He just kept staring up at the sky. When we would call his name he wouldn't answer us. We knew something was wrong."
Both women were told that Ron suffered from autism and would be limited as to what he would be able to accomplish.
He entered the school system without anyone in the family knowing what to expect.
"He started going to school and the teacher's started working with him," his grandmother says," and I never saw anybody work harder in my life than Ron. He just doesn't give up."
Davis recalls being teased and picked on by some of his peers but says he made friends easily.
"I went to all of my school dances, the military ball and I would perform on stage. One time I danced on stage and pretended I was Michael Jackson," Davis says
Davis wanted his drivers’ license and when the Department of Motor Vehicles office in St. Charles Parish wouldn't let him take the test, he went to the Kenner office and took and passed both the written and the driving exams.
"He was so disappointed when they wouldn’t let him get his license in the parish, but he didn't want to give up,” says his grandmother.
“He asked if we could take him to get it somewhere else, and that’s when we decided to go to the Kenner office."
The Herald-Guide featured Ron in 2000 when he was awarded the Cox Communications Community Hero Award, and earlier this year after his participation in the National Special Olympics in Ames, Iowa.
Since the Cox Award, Davis has received even more recognition, including outstanding athlete in baseball from the Special Olympics.
Davis was also a cadet with the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps.