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Autistic San Diego Lawyer Plans To Practice Special Education Law

Erik Weber, who is autistic, is pictured with his mother Sandy taking the oat...

Credit: California Western School of Law

Above: Erik Weber, who is autistic, is pictured with his mother Sandy taking the oath of professional conduct to become a lawyer, June 4, 2015.

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San Diego's newest attorneys took an oath of professional conduct before a panel of judges on Thursday. Erik Weber was among them. He raised his right hand and repeated the oath aloud, in part to faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of his knowledge and ability.

It was something his mother, Sandy Weber, said at one time seemed impossible because her son has autism.

"This child who was never supposed to be any more than 18 months old cognitively, and who I was told at 5 should be put in a home, here he is," Weber said.

As a child he wasn't able to speak, stand up or raise his hand, and now he's taken the oath to become a lawyer, she said.

Weber said she was able to work with her son because she let go of the idea of a perfect child.

“In doing that, sometimes we have to embrace our own childhood griefs, then you are able to embrace the child you have,” Weber told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday.

Erik Weber said he doesn't think law school was harder for him than the other students, just a different challenge. He graduated from California Western School of Law in San Diego.

"In the first year, my grades weren’t that good," he said. "But as time went on, I began getting comfortable with what I was doing."

He plans to practice special education law to help other people like him.

Eric Courchesne, a neurosciences professor at UC San Diego, has known the Webers since Erik was 14.

"I’m just so impressed," Courchesne said. "His story is unusual and very rare and quite a success."

Courchesne's research focuses on the neurobiology of autism. He said research shows one way to determine whether children with autism will have good or poor outcomes is by imaging their brains.

"We know that now. But when Erik was a little child, no one was doing that sort of imaging," Courchesne said. “But I suspect he might have had one of those characteristics that foretold a good outcome.”


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