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He used to be bullied because of his Asperger syndrome; now he's prom king

Posted at 5:20 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 09:40:25-04

ERLANGER, Ky. -- St. Henry District High School senior Quentin Llamas' classmates know him as a student who can cheer anyone up. This spring, they decided to return the favor by making him prom king.

The coronation highlighted a radical shift in the way fellow students have treated Llamas, who has sometimes struggled socially as a result of his Asperger syndrome, throughout his education.

"Everyone here is super nice," Llamas said of his school. "They're more experienced and more pleasant to be around than past grades -- I could tell from middle school that some people didn't like me."

Doctors consider Asperger syndrome part of the autism spectrum, which encompasses a wide variety of developmental conditions that manifest as social and cognitive differences. People with Asperger syndrome, such as Llamas, are generally believed to occupy the higher-functioning end of this spectrum but can still struggle to make friends with their peers.

Llamas said he spent much of his time in middle school on the receiving end of bullying from those peers, but everything changed when he enrolled at St. Henry.

"I think Saint Henry is somewhere 'different' thrives," senior Lily Marino said. "It's where everyone gets a chance to be themselves, but to show others what it really means to be yourself and set an example for other schools."

Llamas' speech teacher, Shawn Schwarz, said she's seen the teenager bloom and grow into a more confident, outgoing person over the course of the last four years. 

"He's grown as our student body began to grow and mature," he said. "Everyone has been amazing to him."

Llamas hopes to continue his journey of educational and personal growth at Northern Kentucky University, which he will attend in the fall.