People
9:54 am
Sun July 13, 2008

Kansas Teen Becomes Nation's First Congressional Page With Autism

Kansas native Ben Berlin was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, when he was five years old. The now 16 year old just got back from Washington D.C., where he served as a Congressional Page for Kansas Congresswoman, Nancy Boyda.

Berlin: It's kind of like a once in a life time experience. It's really worthwhile, and it's a lot of fun.

The prestigious program has been around since the early 1800s. But, out of the hundreds of teenagers who are selected each year to be pages, Berlin is the first one to have an autism spectrum disorder. Boyda says he was chosen based solely on his merits, but she also says his participation is a milestone for Congress. And many disabilities advocates say his achievement will help open doors for others with disabilities. KCUR's health reporter, Elana Gordon, recently met up with Berlin and his mother, Marie, at their home in Topeka, following a news conference in his honor. Berlin says he's surprised he's been getting so much attention.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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