While Notre Dame College School graduate Michael Jacques’ autism and intellectual disability means he can’t read or write, he hasn’t let that stop him from writing his first book.

The book — titled “Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book” — is groundbreaking in that it was written using speech-to-text function. It collects Michael’s life experiences and discoveries into teachable moments on learning, inclusion, self-advocacy, independence and the power of perseverance.

“My book is meant to inspire anybody who has been told they can’t do something,” said Michael, who is a former student of the Niagara Catholic District School Board. “It just talks about me growing up with autism and an intellectual disability. So I talk about childhood. I talk about graduating from Notre Dame High School in Welland with honours. I talk about working at Sobey’s.”

The 27-year-old wasn’t always so confident about using his voice for self-advocacy though. He got that nudge in the right direction after attending a youth empowerment event held by Community Living Ontario, an organization aimed at advocating for inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities.

“[The event] helps people to realize what real inclusion is. That’s how I got my voice,” said Michael.

For Michael, inclusion means being a member of society, being a part of a community and having a strong voice. Michael uses that strong voice to talk about inclusion in schools too.

In addition to being a self-published author and Sobey’s employee, Michael is also a former member of the Special Olympics team, a board member for Community Living Ontario and has worked with a number of organizations to raise funds for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Despite a long list of accomplishments, what Michael most wants people to remember is the importance of inclusion and the power of perseverance.

Join us in celebrating this exceptional Catholic school grad’s dedication, courage and commitment to inclusion by sharing his inspiring story today!