Xavier DeGroat, believed to be the first autistic intern at the White House, said that his experience in the White House means a lot.
“It means a lot that I interned at the White House and became the first autistic White House intern,” DeGroat, a 30-year-old autism advocate and student at Northwood University, told Fox News in an interview released on Thursday.
The 3-month internship started in September, when DeGroat, the founder of an autism foundation in Lansing, Michigan, was assigned to process letters to the president in the correspondence office.
“The White House, at this point, is going to be my permanent institution that I work with to make differences for people on a spectrum,” he told Fox News. “I know this sounds interesting or weird, but have you ever heard of Billy Graham? I want to be considered the evangelist for autism to all presidents in the future.”
Degroat said he’s the first officially documented autistic White House Intern, according to archival research conducted alongside the White House Historical Association and the Library of Congress.
He said he always had the thought of being an advocate for autism at the White House to inspire others “to not let their disability stop them from going after high-profile or high-up things.”
Even though he interned at the White House, he’s only talked to the president twice—the first one being in August 2019, a year before his internship, when former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani arranged the meeting.
Giuliani said in a Fox News report that Trump “really liked him” and “he actually said in the middle of the conversation, ‘If you hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known that you were autistic.’”
“I think he’s been good for the president and good for the White House,” Guiliani told Fox. “A lot of people have no exposure to people with autism. Or they don’t even realize they’re having it. And once they do, they almost always come away with a very different view of it, and a much more understanding view of it.”
DeGroat’s internship at the White House appears to be having an impact. Michigan passed a law that allows driver’s licenses and license plates to show law enforcement that a person has autism or a communication impediment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 54 children is identified as having autism, it appears in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and is four times more common in boys than in girls.