Special needs student, a math savant, looking forward to college

06/04/2014 6:30 PM

06/04/2014 6:32 PM

Erin Keefe Bain knows watching her son Quentin graduate June 5 will be bittersweet – the typical set of emotions for most parents witnessing the fruition of more than 12 years of school.

Still Quentin’s journey has been quite different, she notes. Diagnosed at a young age with autism, the mathematically-gifted Lexington-Richland School District Five student has had vast challenges but overcame them. He will graduate from Irmo High School with several hours of college credit and attend the University of South Carolina as a math major this fall, all accomplishments his mother attributes to the district’s special needs program and flexibility of tailoring Quentin’s education to fit his needs.

“If we didn’t go through the program … if someone had not identified his gifts, we might not be sitting here talking about the great things Quentin will be doing,” Bain said. “I think the key was flexibility … teachers who said we have to nurture this kid somehow. The school and the learning strategies department have been fantastic and just accommodated Quentin and his knowledge and his learning style.”

Quentin started in the district’s special needs program in elementary school, where teachers helped identify his splinter skills and that he was savant in math. Throughout grade school, he was given the flexibility to learn higher level math curriculum while developing skills that were not as strong, his family said. By his senior year; he was taking Advanced Placement Statistics, AP Literature and an AP history course and had accumulated around 40 hours of college credit.

Though he excelled in several subjects, Quentin’s strongest interests and abilities continued to be in math, an area he realized he was advanced in early on.

“Really young … I don’t remember exactly when but at 5 or 6, I think I could multiply,” said Quentin, who once when through three years of math course work in a year.

So, what is Quentin looking forward to most about college?

“More math” of course: Reading math books and other publications, which he already does in his spare time; discussing math with his professors; and the freedom to focus solely on math classes.

“I want to go to USC, get a Ph.D. in math and then I want to do a combination of mathematical research and mathematical teaching,” he said.

Submitted by Lexington-Richland 5

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