Hard work, strong memory dominate teen’s road to National Honor Society

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Ryan Robinson holds a candle he received during his induction into Vicksburg High School’s National Honor Society. (The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

Ryan Robinson has been inducted into his school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, proving what his parents have believed all along.

“Just because some children have a difficulty, doesn’t mean they can’t accomplish what others can accomplish,” Ryan’s mother, Patty Robinson, said. “He’s worked hard.”

When Ryan was 9 he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger syndrome. He was also diagnosed with Tourette syndrome.

Yet Ryan, a 16-year-old junior, has maintained a 3.57 grade-point average at Vicksburg High School, where American history is his favorite subject.

“There isn’t much he doesn’t remember,” said his father, Mike Robinson. “He gets straight A’s in history.”

Induction into the National Honor Society is among the top recognitions high school students can receive. Selection is based on academic performance, leadership, service to the school and community and character.

VHS history teacher Ed Wong said Ryan brings something extra to class.

“Ryan is very intelligent,” Wong said. “Like many students, he has his strengths and weaknesses. And what you have to do as a teacher is deal with students’ strengths.”

Ryan was named Who’s Who Among American High School Students for the 2000-2001 school year. In the 8th grade, Ryan received a certificate from the President’s Educational Awards Program for having a 90 or more overall average in all subjects.

Robin Nettle, a teacher at South Park Elementary School, taught Ryan in the fifth and sixth grades and said she remembers Ryan’s dedication.

“I remember Ryan as a hard worker,” she said. “He didn’t say very much, but I would always get a thank you from his smile.”

Honor society inductions are family events, and Mike and Patty Robinson were invited to join the parents of 39 other juniors tapped this year.

“His family is very supporting and very loving,” Nettle said. “He and his mom and dad work very well together.”

There are many differences among people with autism, but something many have in common is high intellectual abilities, but difficulty in learning and retaining information. With Asperger syndrome, social skills are a challenge.

Patty Robinson said she and Ryan spend a lot of time going over homework at night.

Ryan complains about homework as any student would, she said.

“He gets frustrated when there is something else he’d rather be doing,” she said.

While homework may keep him busy, Ryan has several hobbies he enjoys.

For three or four years, Ryan has been working on a ball made of rubber bands that now weights 14 1/2 pounds and is bigger than the size of a basketball.

He is a member of his church youth group and enjoys playing video games on the XBox he shares with his 12-year-old brother, Bradley.

“They get along pretty well, except for when it comes to playing the XBox,” Patty said.