Erik Weber continues to prove people wrong.
In May, he became the first student with autism not only to graduate from Cal Western School of Law, but the first to pass the bar exam too. He did it on his first try.
“When I first opened it up on May 15th, I closed it down and checked it again to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating,” Erik said.
He was at Starbucks checking his score on his laptop.
“When I found out, I really did pass my keyboard got wet with tears of joy,” Erik said.
The road to becoming a lawyer wasn’t an easy one. Erik was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. When he was 5, doctors told his parents his autism was so severe, he’d have to be institutionalized the rest of his life.
Sandi Weber, Erik’s mother, refused to put her son in a home.
“You have to grieve the loss of the perfect child. What you thought you were going to have, is not going to be the same,” she said.
When Erik was first diagnosed there wasn’t a lot of information about autism, so Sandi had to improvise. She started videotaping her son’s behavior and playing it back for him as a teaching tool because Erik responded better to visual learning.
To help Erik understand facial recognition, she and Erik campaigned door to door for Councilwoman Marti Emerald. Sandi said having Erik see people’s reaction to cold visits helped him understand first impressions.
“Suddenly with his non-verbal face and big eyes, he realized I got him,” she said.
She also enrolled Erik in Special Olympics. The organization gave him confidence, friends and strength as he attended college at Point Loma Nazarene University and got into the Cal Western School of Law.
Now Erik plans to practice special education law.
“I got into it because I wanted to help other people with special needs, other people like me,” said Erik.
He’s already written a paper about group homes that house special needs people.
“Two thirds of them in Southern California are below standards on how they treat the residents in group homes," he said. "The oversight is not there.”
His paper has been shown to two assembly members and one state senator. He’s hoping his paper will encourage a change in the system.