Man with autism reaches Boy Scout's highest rank

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CLEVELAND (WTHR) — A 21-year-old with autism in Ohio has accomplished something reserved for only the best of America's Boy Scouts: Eagle Scout status.

Timmy Hartgate is mostly non-verbal. Earning the title of Eagle Scout was an honor in the works for his entire life.

"It's like 3 to 4 percent of scouts nationwide attain the rank of Eagle Scout," Ed, Timmy's father told WKYC. "So it's a very unusual honor."

Ed said his journey was especially difficult because becoming an Eagle Scout requires lots of communicating and interacting with people — areas where Timmy has struggled growing up.

With the help of the Lerner School for Autism at the Cleveland Clinic, Timmy learned to type words and communicate through responses on his iPad.

"It's been a great experience for us to watch him learn how to communicate," Ed said. "They've gone out of their way to teach him."

For his Eagle Scout service project — the last task completed before earning the prestigious status — he helped to organize the Lerner School's summer field day.

One of his teachers, Phoebe Mason, said she was able to identify people and communicate ideas about the day through his iPad.

"We're happy he's able to be recognized for his commitment to the scouts."

Timmy was honored in a special ceremony just for him, surrounded by his troop that sees him as nothing but a great leader.