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Autistic Teen Denied Trip Due to Disability

The family of a north Portland teen is speaking out after they say he competed for a national trip and won — only to be told he could not go. They say he was denied for only one reason: he’s autistic. Fox’s Kelsey Watt explains.

Meet Niko Boskovic, a high school sophomore who is funny, smart, interested in world politics — and autistic.

Through this letterboard, he shares his passions and opinions one character at a time. A key that unlocks the full depths of his mind and personality.

“The first time we got more, ‘what do you think about X, Y or Z,’ it was fascinating. It was fascinating to finally hear his voice.”

Last fall, he learned about a contest through the Odd Fellows Lodge, where students compete for a national trip to the U.N. He wrote an essay, got letters of recommendation and met with judges, who were very impressed.

“They said that both in the written and the interview, which he did using the letterboard, that he was a clear winner out of everyone.”

But when Niko’s mother, Loreta, starting making the travel arrangements, she says she was told by the chairman of the national nonprofit in charge of the trip that Niko couldn’t go after all. And she was stunned to hear why.

“He said they’re not set up to support people with disabilities.”

“It’s disappointing and it’s disgusting, and it really has made many, many people upset.”

Now, the local Odd Fellows Lodge is supporting Niko and his family, and they won’t take part in the contest — put on by a national non-profit — until people with disabilities are welcome to go.

“I wanted to go and educate.”

Through his letterboard, Niko told us he wanted to go to educate people about autism — and called his rejection nonsense.

He also told us, “I have very little patience with people who dismiss me because of my disability,” and he hopes they’ll change their mind.

“People with disabilities have just as much right as everyone else to be included in our society. And for some reason, we’re still just not quite there yet.”

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