At 18 years old, Will Barrett commands a stage.
He’s more poised than men twice his age, as he shares a personal story of overcoming a challenge and discovering a strength.
The North Hall High School senior is co-founder of the Ausometistic Foundation, which increases understanding and awareness of autism spectrum disorder. Will has Asperger’s syndrome and is a graduate of Challenged Child and Friends.
“Ausometistic started as a book that my mom was writing,” Will said. “It was just a little, private project, and she wasn’t really intending for it to be a big thing. It was just for herself. But after I gave my first speech to the Challenged Child Women’s Advocacy Group about two years ago, we found out how well people responded to my story and decided we could make this a best-selling book for other parents of autistic children.”
Will and his mother, Kelly, hoped the book would motivate and encourage other parents.
“It can be a quieter of fears,” he said. “It can dispel their fears.”
Meanwhile, Will has shared his story dozens of times during the past two years, speaking to Gainesville Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Junior Achievement and others.
He turned Ausometistic into a nonprofit foundation and corporation, www.ausometistic.com. He credits Challenged Child for giving him the foundation to succeed and his parents for pushing him to be his best.
Will is a member of North Hall’s golf team, Future Business Leaders of America and DECA, which prepares students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
“We go to these different conferences and you pick a topic,” he said. “You speak and compete, win awards and move on to the next level. I presented Ausometistic to the DECA judges.”
Will placed second in the state with his Ausometistic DECA presentation, but he’d hoped to go even further.
“From state I figured out what I needed to improve on and what needed to be clarified,” he said.
Will’s high school accomplishments continue. He was in the Key Club, Chinese Society, on the school newspaper staff and an International Baccalaureate student his junior year.
He plans to attend the University of North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus to study business and communication.
“My intended major is going to be speech and communications,” he said. “And I also want to minor in English or literature, because I do also hope to be a best-selling author along with a public speaker.”
Will’s true aim is to continue to grow Ausometistic and spread its reach around the world.
“I’ve been local, but we do intend to branch out as months and even years go by,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be reaching out of state soon, and we intend to grow it in the very near future.”