Best and Brightest award-winning Lake Worth high school student with autism heading to college

LAKE WORTH, Fla - We first met Ricky Canelo at NewsChannel Five's Best and the Brightest luncheon honoring high school valedictorians in the area. The John I. Leonard graduate told us he plans to be a doctor.

"I'm excited to be here," he said.

He told us something else too; he has autism.

We went to his home in suburban Lake Worth and met his family to find just how he was able to make it  to the top of his class.

His mom, Rina, said they received the diagnosis of mild autism when he was three-years-old.

"We were just, 'what is this, what are we going to do?' " she said.

She got him into special classes and encouraged him.

"She pretty much instilled in me I had no excuses and you have to get the job done," said Ricky.

He now fits in socially, but it wasn't always this way.

"Sometimes I got really frustrated and just angry, aggressive, and I learned to control that," he said.

Today he's much more upbeat and optimistic, far from the days when he was in the seventh grade and being bullied.

"I considered suicide at one point and my mom talked me out of it, and my dad talked me out of it, my guidance counselor talked me out of it. I just got through it because there was a serious battle with depression. It took a year but I got out of it," he said.

He's gone from the worst of his times, to the best of his times.

"I sort of fit in with the people at school and what not.  People who don't know I have autism  are surprised."

Ricky's now among the best and the brightest, and  he's heading  to Florida State University to major in medicine.

"Thank you everybody along the way. I won't let you down, I won't let you down."


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