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Valley Sun All-Star Peter Conforti:

He faces life with a smile

July 23, 2009|By Ruth Longoria

He may have trouble finding the right words at times, but he never has trouble finding a smile.

This week’s La Cañada Valley Sun All-Star is Peter Conforti, a student at La Cañada High School.

Peter has autism and despite the difficulties associated with his disorder, is a capable young man who enjoys playing with friends at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA Adventure Camp, playing video games and riding horses, and also spending time with his family.

He also enjoys smiling and does it on a regular basis.

“Peter has a remarkable optimism and is always happy; it’s inspiring,” said Lindsey Koopman, an academic and behaviorist instructor at La Cañada High School.

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Peter is the son of Nanci and Tom Conforti of La Cañada. He has a sister, Alexandra, a 2007 Flintridge Preparatory School graduate and junior at the University of California, Berkeley. He also has two dogs, Goldie, a golden Labrador, and Charlie, a King Charles Cavalier spaniel.

Peter attended Palm Crest Elementary School and La Cañada High School 7/8. While at the junior high, he wrote an article for the 7/8 Spartan Post about the challenges of being autistic.

“Autism means something special. It means it’s hard to talk to other people in public. It’s hard to use words sometimes,” he wrote.

Despite his challenges, Peter manages to accomplish quite a lot. He’s involved in drama at the high school, enjoys participating in various sports activities, running and swimming. He’s also an equestrian and has been riding horses since he was about 5 years old. He rides at Carousel Ranch and has participated in numerous horse shows.

He’s also involved in kung fu lessons, although, his dad laughed, adding, “He’d never hurt a fly. He’s a very gentle kid. He’s sensitive, funny and always joking.”

This past year, Peter began working two days a week after school in the school library. It’s a good way to develop his job skills, his mom said.

Over at the YMCA, Peter is known as a “great kid,” said Kim Beattie, director of communications for the Crescenta Cañada YMCA.

Peter has attended YMCA Camp since he was in the first-grade and loved it so much he has kept all of his camp shirts through the years, Beattie said.

“Peter loves interacting with other kids, camp has been great for him,” Tom Conforti said.

Peter said he hasn’t though much about what he wants to do when he grows up, except, “I want to be 18,” he said, with a smile.


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