Many teenagers alternate between avoiding attention and seeking it. In typical teenage fashion, Chase Coleman is hesitant to draw attention to any differences between himself and his peers. He has stated that he doesn’t want to be labeled by those who don’t know him. Yet, he is a tremendous spokesperson and advocate for himself and others with autism. He participates with his family each year in the Autism Speaks Walk in Forest Park and was even interviewed for the local news during the 2019 event. He is active in his church and has often shared his experiences by publicly speaking about autism among his congregation.
Over the years, he has developed into a responsible and dependable student. But it has taken years of hard work to grow into the student and person he is today. Kathy Klein, a nurse with SSD, has known Chase for nine years and says both she and Chase have learned a lot over that time.
“He has grown amazingly in maturity and taught me so much about autism,” she said. “He taught me that he wasn’t often angry, so much as passionate, and was still learning how to express himself in a way that others could understand.” She added that he has had to consciously learn how to match his facial expressions with his emotions.
Chase enjoys basketball and has shared his love of music by singing in class talent shows, and he created a CD of raps he performed from positive affirmation sentences he had written. As a senior at Hazelwood Central High School, he strives to be successful in his classes and in life and has a goal of attending college.