An autistic Irish American man from Rochester, New York has overcome challenges and surpassed expectations to become an amazing Irish dancer.
Austen Kelly was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. Doctors told his family that he would not be able to speak or do many activities, reports ABC13 WHAM.
However, today at the age of 27, Austen not only speaks very well but is an accomplished Irish dancer. He began dancing at an early age and started seriously studying Irish dance in 2014.
"Words can't describe it, he talks with his feet," said Austen's mother, Diana Kelly. "I am so grateful and one of the luckiest people in the world."
Austen is a dancer at Jamieson’s Irish Dance & Creative Arts in Webster, New York. His mother says that Katie Jamieson, who owns the school, truly understands Austen and has dedicated years to her son and to all the dancers at the school.
In 2018, Austen qualified for the World Irish Dance Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I think qualifying for the World’s is a huge, huge accomplishment to anyone," Jamieson told the Democrat & Chronicle in 2018.
She should know. Before the Horseheads native established Jamieson Irish Dance in 2016, she was a highly competitive Irish dancer and multiple-time World Championships qualifier.
"It’s something that people just dream about. I mean, it’s huge. It’s like the Olympics of Irish dance. The fact that he made it there is so wonderful. So many dancers in the world are just going to dream about that, and he actually did it."
Austen said he likes inspiring people.
“I inspire those to work hard and follow their dreams… I like dancing because it always helps people make a smile," he said in the 2018 interview.
"Dancing is really fun and very energetic and is a really good workout for everyone.”
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