Ben Cousins, a high school junior at Bloomington Kennedy, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. In the years that followed, Cousins faced various challenges stemming from his disorder including experiencing sensory issues and behavioural problems as well as having difficulties both socially and academically. He also struggled with his weight and weighed 200 lbs by the time he was in the 5th grade. However with the help of an intense cardio regimen and his mother’s support, he shed over 40 lbs and opted to take up wrestling in his freshman year.
The teen eventually reached his goal of qualifying for the state tournament and has subsequently been recruited by Concordia in Moorhead. However the determined youngster’s journey has not been without its challenges and the teen ultimately lost both matches that he competed in during the tournament. Regardless, Cousins remains optimistic both about his future in wrestling as well as in his ability to inspire children who have ASD to follow their dreams. He asserts:
“They will love themselves more and they will love everyone around them more, because they have the confidence in themselves and they will be very good at what they do.”
Source: John Lauritsen on the CBS Minnesota website: MN Wrestler With Autism Qualifies For National Tourney