To see his son win a talent show playing guitar and signing Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” to see him bowl a game of 299, to see him line up at nose guard on Friday nights, Juan Roque brims with pride.
“He’s my hero,” said Juan, a big fixture at 6-foot-7 on Arizona State’s offensive line on the 1996 football team that nearly won the national championship.
Cristian Roque, the El Mirage Dysart High School senior football player, has come a long way since Juan and his wife were asked to come to Cristian’s school when he was a first grader.
Juan called it, “a kick in the stomach” when they were told their son might have autism.
“You think of ‘Rain Man,’ ” Juan Roque said. “I know that’s a stigma and you really shouldn’t think that way. But when people hear the word ‘autism,’ that’s the first thing they think of.
“But really what it’s turned out to be is a heck of an experience.”