AUSTIN – Weddings are special occasions meant to be shared with the ones you love most. Traditionally, the father of the bride has the honor of walking the bride down the aisle. However, one lucky Austin teen got the privilege of walking his speech therapist down the aisle on her special day.
Dylan Mast is an 18-year-old who loves school, thrives in special education classes and is active in Special Olympics.
When Dylan was 3 years old, he was diagnosed with autism, intellectual disabilities and speech apraxia, according to his mother, Marnie Lane Mast.
“Dylan is THE HAPPIEST human being on the earth. He is warm, funny, sweet and very endearing to all who meet him. His disabilities have affected his life growing up in profound ways because he has never been able to experience what a ‘neurotypical’ person gets to experience growing up…going to parties, going on dates, getting a drivers license, things like that,” Mast said in an email to KSAT.
When Dylan was 10 years old, he still couldn’t speak, but Mast knew Dylan had a lot he wanted to say.
His mother remembered Maggie Stoecker, Dylan’s elementary speech therapist. Mast said Maggie and Dylan worked together for a year in the public school system.
His mom said she recalled how amazing Maggie was with Dylan, so she reached out to see if Maggie would come to their home to work with him.
“After an evaluation we decided we’d give it a few months and if there was no progress we would re-evaluate and maybe call it a day. Well, here we are 8 years later and his verbal language and articulation continues to develop,” Mast wrote over email.
Mast said Dylan and Maggie share an incredible bond, and both have mutual respect for each other.
“Maggie coming to our home all these years has made her like family. She has been a huge and consistent part of our lives and her coming to our home is as routine as everything else we do”, Mast said.
When Maggie asked if Dylan could walk her down the aisle at her wedding, Mast said she ugly cried, but it made sense because of how much Maggie adored him.
Mast said Dylan was excited, but she didn’t think he really understood the role until the day before the wedding when she saw how serious he was about it.
“As my husband and I watched Dylan walk this beautiful girl towards her future husband I thought about how far he’s come and the exponential growth in ALL ways was right before our very eyes...We were SO proud of him and as Dylan has proven over and over he is capable of so much and every time we raise the bar for him he leaps over it!” Mast wrote over email.
Mast said she’s not sure what the future will look like for Dylan, but the one thing she knows for sure is that he will be a happy, well-adjusted young man with lots to offer the world.