The 15-year-old incoming high school sophomore won 6th place out of 35 participants, which is quite an accomplishment.
Dailey is especially knowledgeable on the subject, considering the fact that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of nine.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, “Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger’s syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.
Doctors group Asperger’s syndrome with other conditions that are called autistic spectrum disorders or pervasive developmental disorders.
These disorders all involve problems with social skills and communication. Asperger’s syndrome is generally thought to be at the milder end of this spectrum.”
Sam’s speech highlighted the puzzle of Asperger’s, specifically three main aspects: social awkwardness, sensitivity issues, and hyper-focused interests.
For Dailey personally, he has problems understanding some social cues; his hypersensitivity to sounds can cause him to have meltdowns; and he can often talk continuously about one particular subject matter for a long period of time – which makes public speaking a strong quality for the teenager.
Dailey is adamant that Asperger’s is not a disability. Despite motor skill and sensory difficulties, Sam and other Aspie kids possess a very powerful mind, a photographic memory, and an uncanny ability to see patterns.
By utilizing these skills, adults with Asperger’s often have profitable careers in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering.
Sam’s goal is to become a scientist that specializes in robotics.
Sam has plenty of advice to lend on the subject. To parents of kids with autism, Sam advises, “Tell them or else they’re left in the dark wondering what is wrong with them. Once they find out, they know that they’re not alone.”
Dailey also suggests that anyone who has Asperger’s, or any degree of Autism, should constantly learn more on the subject and search for ways to overcome or compensate for their symptoms. For example, to combat hearing sensitivity, Sam often uses ear plugs to help cancel out some of the offending noises.
The Dailey family, mom Jodie, dad Randy, and younger siblings William and Sarah, are all very supportive of Sam. Jodie comments, “I am very proud of him and how he deals with this.”
Sam Dailey is a video game aficionado, an avid reader, and also a black belt in Karate. In fact, he is a Karate instructor at Lake Arthur Karate and recommends the sport to all kids with Autism. In the fall, he will attend Vermilion Catholic High School. He looks forward to the school year and will continue to be active in 4-H as well as Beta Club.