Houston sitting at the top of a stone surface in nature

Houston is a college student studying Forensic Psychology. Houston is a strong advocate for voice and choice. He believes that every person should have the opportunity to speak for themselves and explore their dreams. Houston is on the Autism Spectrum; he was not able to voice his words until he got a communication board at the age of 21. He now uses his voice to advocate for others and calls on society to always presume competence instead of assuming incapacity.

When Houston was approaching the age of 18, he was not involved in the transfer of rights discussions at his school. Nonetheless, the school handed his mom the guardianship paperwork so she could start the process to place Houston under her guardianship. However, his mom did not complete the paperwork. She believed that she had “no right to take anyone else’s rights away [and that] no one does.” As Houston’s mom considered the next steps, she learned about two important things that shaped the course of Houston’s life. First, she learned about the importance of presuming competence, and second, she learned about tools to help Houston communicate better. As Houston puts it, “the moment my life changed was when I could spell my thoughts. Now, my story is beginning, and my future is going to be filled with beauty and friends and accomplishments.” Soon after that, Houston became his own guardian. Whenever he needs support in decision-making or communicating certain things, he signs permission to allow his mom to provide the needed supports. Shortly after Houston became his own guardian, there was an election and he got to exercise his right to vote. After voting, Houston said to his mom, “Might be my proudest moment ever.”

Houston continues to use his voice to advocate for his peers. He is currently a member of the Center on Youth Voice, Youth Choice advisory board.

In Houston's own words

I was trapped in my body, unable to tell anyone what I was thinking or feeling, for 21 years. Only God knows how much I suffered in my silence. That’s when I learned about spelling my thoughts. The reason I want to be an advocate is to be a voice for others like me. My purpose is to make sure you see others like me as intelligent human beings that each have their own opinions about how to live their life and fight to protect their rights. “No voice” should not equate to “no rights”. I am currently in college with a goal to study forensic psychology. I have full time assistance to help me communicate and regulate my body. My prayer is that all my friends have the same opportunity.

Houston with his arms around his brothers, their mother in front
Houston with his mom and brothers before his brother leaves for Marine Boot Camp
Houston standing close with his mother, facing camera
Houston and his mom
Houston holding his nephew who he loves
Houston holding his nephew who he loves