Hayden Tapia is just like any other teen boy. The 16-year-old junior from Irving High School loves sports – specifically baseball, more specifically the Detroit Tigers. 

He shows his love of sports by serving as the team manager of his school’s baseball team.

“My most important job is to cheer them on,” says Hayden. “I also go get the foul balls.”

Hayden also thrives academically. He prides himself in earning good grades – As and Bs – and although his favorite subject is math, he also really enjoys his graphic design class.

“We get to make buttons and folders and design on Illustrator,” he says. “It’s really fun.”

Hayden’s assimilation is no accident. Despite having autism and a speech delay, his mother, Elena Tapia, insisted and did all she could – with the help of his teachers at Irving ISD’s Lively Elementary, de Zavala Middle and now Irving High – to ensure he had as normal of a life as possible.

“I’ve always encouraged him to be involved, just like any other student,” Elena says. “We didn’t want it to hold him back. He is doing really well. He is very confident, and I think that’s because we’ve made it a point to tell him ‘good job’ and recognize every single one of his efforts.”

And just like many of his classmates, Hayden is preparing for the next step after high school. He hopes to attend college to study art.

“Hayden is a wonderful student and is a joy to have in class,” says Christopher Glenn, Irving High graphic design teacher. “He’s the kind of student that every teacher wants in their class. He takes direction well, works well independently and is a great problem solver. I have no doubt he will succeed at anything he sets his mind to.”