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Mom with graduating autistic teen seeks cards, receives outpouring

Tanvier Peart is a happy wife, mom of two little boys, writer and creative director who loves working out...and a good cupcake. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, her family now calls the Oklahoma City area home, and embraces sweet tea in...

When an autistic teen didn't want to graduate with his class, Mom and the world stepped in

Graduating from high school is a huge milestone in a person's life. Here's a story of one mother's actions that helped make her son's experience memorable.

"Most of the school was afraid of me because of my appearance, and there's good reason for that — I didn't want anyone to mess with me and basically bully me," revealed Jacob Hanson, a 19-year-old graduating senior from Highlands Ranch High School.

In an interview with 2 KWGN-TV, Christine Hanson explained just how heartbroken she was to hear her son did not want to walk with his graduating class. Jacob put up a wall throughout his years at Highlands Ranch as he worked hard to complete school with autism. While music helped him cope with the trials and tribulations that come with being a teen in high school, Jacob's mother wanted more for her son — and found a special way to commemorate his journey.

After feeling discouraged to throw a graduation party, Christine made the decision to post a special request on Facebook. "Can you help me?" she asked on her event page Not So Secret Graduation Mission. She asked her friends and loved ones to send a congratulatory graduation card to Jacob — along with the option of sending a gift.

The result was a surprising outpouring of cards and well wishes from around the world.

"As I'm putting more and more cards into his lap, I don't think he realized, but he had this grin and just kept getting bigger," recalls Christine.

Receiving mail from England to Japan, neither Christine nor her son expected the request to become viral. Many of the graduation cards came from a sixth grade class at Rocky Top Middle School, less than an hour away from Jacob's high school. "They jumped right in," said class teacher Liz Darnall. "There wasn't a second of hesitation."

This story is an example of how a simple action can enrich someone's life. There's power in "paying it forward" to others through random acts of kindness. None of us truly knows what a person goes through in their life and how they cope. I'm sure Jacob will remember this for the rest of his life, that will hopefully encourage others with similar experiences to know they don't have to be a relative to care.

It's good to hear stories like this.

The next time you scroll through your social media feed, keep your eyes peeled for stories like this and for ways you can help make a positive impact in someone else's life.

More on autism

Autism rates increase by 30 percent
Beyond autism awareness: What autism families need
Your child has autism, now what?

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