Daniel Perkins of Melbourne does not let Autism stand in the best way of his goals. He would like to work on Broadway sometime. Video posted June 23, 2017, by Jennifer Sangalang, FLORIDA TODAY

Melbourne man with Autism hopes to sometime work on Broadway.

A fascinated Daniel Perkins walked on the King Center stage and stared at empty chairs.

There was no present being carried out, no viewers, no applause — but the younger man with Autism felt a jolt.

Because for Perkins, the theater represents his completely happy place.

“As soon as you are up on that stage, it doesn’t matter who you are. People don’t care what you look like, people don’t care if you have disabilities or things like that,” stated the 21-year-previous school scholar with Autism and Asperger syndrome, a developmental dysfunction that impacts social interplay and nonverbal communication. “I really like theater because it lets me express myself the way I would like to express myself without having to worry what other people think.”

He lately wrapped his second yr as a scholar at CIP Brevard and as an intern at close by King Center for the Performing Arts. Perkins hopes to sometime work at a theater. His final dream job? Broadway.

“A lot of people think that it’s a very specific skill set and if you don’t have A, B and C that you’re probably not going to be very successful,” said Perkins. “At least in my opinion, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”


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Perkins’ mom, Nancy, could not be prouder. During the previous seven years, she’s seen her youngest baby develop by “leaps and bounds.”

“He used to get suspended from elementary school,” stated Nancy Perkins, who lives half-time in Massachusetts and Jupiter, Florida, with husband, Larry. “He was being bullied, and he got suspended because someone else pushed him” and he would push again.

Middle faculty was exhausting, too. “It was really painful because kids could be bullies,” she stated.

After eighth grade, Perkins’ mother and father enrolled him in personal faculty. He attended three specialised academies for college students with challenges — every in a unique state.

“I didn’t think he would graduate high school,” stated Nancy Perkins.

She credit Logan River Academy, a residential remedy middle in Logan, Utah, for lastly serving to her son. Though many college students attend Logan to heal from emotional trauma, the Perkins felt the employees was very nurturing, and most of the college students have been on the Autism spectrum.

“It was tough love” sending him away, stated Nancy Perkins, however “we gave him what he needed, which was the independence to learn about himself.”


After 5 years of highschool (he repeated 10th grade) at three totally different academies, Daniel Perkins graduated in 2015. His commencement present? A visit to New York City with older siblings Maxwell and Hanna to attend the Tony Awards.

“That was such an amazing honor, I couldn’t have been more blessed to have that experience,” he stated.

These days, Perkins attends CIP Brevard in Melbourne, a university internship program that helps young adults with disabilities transition from highschool to school and the office. The CIP employees acknowledges Perkins as a mannequin advocate for Autism consciousness.

“Many of us are very sensible and may do the identical job that different individuals — quote-unquote regular individuals — can do,” said Perkins. “Just as a result of we do not perceive the world in the identical method doesn’t suggest that we’re not making an attempt our greatest to.”

CIP college students construct good habits and study what Perkins calls “executive functioning” — banking, budgeting and profession prep.

Jennifer Kolarik, lead profession coordinator at CIP Brevard, described Perkins as a star scholar, noting his motivation. “I feel that carries Dan far,” she says.

She foresees him working at knowledgeable theater sometime. “He has the eagerness,” she stated. “He must get that palms-on expertise backstage, and I feel that’s the subsequent step for him.”

After the semester ends, Perkins will journey to North Carolina for an unpaid internship at a theater.

[  TUNE IN:  Listen to Daniel Perkins share his love of theater and what it means to be a robust advocate for Autism consciousness ]

Although he has carried out in a faculty manufacturing of “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical” and enjoys watching theatrical productions, Perkins stated he prefers working behind the scenes.

Peg Girard, inventive director of Melbourne Civic Theatre, stated Perkins is heading in the right direction to creating his dream come true. With “education and experience, the more you know about the part of theater you want to do the better,” she stated, citing stage administration, lighting, sound and directing. “You want as a lot information as you possibly can. Internships are a good way to get expertise as properly.

“New York is a troublesome place for anybody,” she added. “Stepping stones and better of luck to him.”

It’s a welcome problem for Perkins, whose journey has had its share of dramatic ups and downs.

“Before, he was only a child at residence enjoying ‘Minecraft,'” said Nancy Perkins. “Now, he needs to see the world.”

“I’d like to in the future be acting on an enormous Broadway stage and on the finish simply take my bow and have everybody standing up and clapping for me and the work that I did,” stated Daniel Perkins. “That would really be a dream come true.”

Sangalang is FLORIDA TODAY‘s leisure reporter.

Contact Sangalang at 321-242-3630


Twitter: @byjensangalang

Instagram: @byjensangalang

Facebook: /jennifer.sangalang3


CIP in Melbourne assists college students with studying variations. Video by Malcolm Denemark


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