Rejecting doctor’s grim prognosis, local student proves he has the right stuff –
By Patricia Beech –
Adam Fulton wears his uniform proudly.
His khaki shirt neatly trimmed with pins and patches, his sash weighted down by 22 merit badges – both signifying nearly a decade of dedication and hard work.
He is a Boy Scout of the highest order – an Eagle Scout.
He is also autistic but he hasn’t allowed that to stand in his way.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is no small undertaking, even under the best of circumstances, but for Adam, autism created additional obstacles he had to overcome before winning the coveted honor last October.
“It’s an incredible achievement for any scout,” says his mother, Judy. “But for Adam, it’s so much more meaningful because he had to work through so many hurdles that others don’t have to face.”
A member of Boy Scout Troop 60 in West Union, Fulton has held several leadership positions in his Troop including: Quartermaster, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and Senior Patrol Leader.
He earned Eagle Scout rank after constructing two welcome signs on State Rte. 41 at West Union’s northern and southern corporation limits. He also plans to build similar signs at the State Rte. 125 and State Rte. 247 entrances to the town.
“It was a real learning experience with months and months of planning and working,” he says.
Fulton was given a Certificate of Appreciation from the village, and will receive his Eagle Scout badge and a medal, along with membership in an exclusive club, during a Court of Honor ceremony in March.
“Being a part of the Eagle Scout alumni is incredible honor,” says Judy. “It’s really shows just how far Adam has come and all that he’s accomplished.”
She says her son’s Scout Master, Matt Sheeley, deserves much of the credit.
“I’ve always been a protective mother because when Adam was younger I had to be, but as he’s gotten older I had to learn how to back off and not be over-protective,” she says. “Sheeley never allowed him or me to use autism as a crutch and always demanded that Adam do things on the same level as any other scout, even if it was hard for him, and he also reminded me to back off and let him do it on his own.”
Diagnosed with autism at the age of four, doctors gave Adam’s life a grim prognosis.
“They didn’t think I would have a future,” says the 18-year-old senior, who was recently accepted by Shawnee State University.
“We were told by doctors at that time not to get our hopes up because there was a strong possibility Adam would need to be institutionalized,” says Judy. “We decided to accept the diagnosis, but not the prognosis.”
To date, Adam has defied every expectation, becoming one of the most well-liked and respected students in his school.
Graduating this year with a 3.5 GPA, Fulton is a member of Beta Club and has participated in soccer and track, reaching the number one spot on West Union High School’s cross-country team last year.
He says he plans to attend Shawnee State University to major in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Political Science.
“He is a very politically opinionated person,” says Judy. “He developed a real passion for politics during the last presidential election.”
She says her son’s natural leadership abilities make it very possible that he could become an advocate for others with autism.
“Adam is a wonderful mentor to young people, and he’s achieved everything he’s set his mind to,” she says, adding, “With college just around the corner, chances are he’ll keep on going far beyond where anyone thought he could.”