Teen with autism will go on UN trip after all

He wrote a winning essay for a contest

Niko Boskovic, at Trillium School in Northeast Portland, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland teen who was denied a trip he won to the United Nations will being going on the trip after all, his mother told KOIN 6 News.

Niko Boskovic wrote a winning essay for a trip that would send 300 teens from around the world to the United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth in New York this summer. But in March, the 15-year-old found out he was not being accepted.

Loreta Buskovic and her son, Niko Buskovic, at Trillium School in Northeast Portland, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)
Loreta Boskovic and her son, Niko Boskovic, at Trillium School in Northeast Portland, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)

Niko was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and uses a letter board to communicate. His mother, Loreta Boskovic felt that the organization denied him because they didn’t want to handle his disability.

Gordon Magella, the family’s lawyer through Disability Rights Oregon, agreed, telling KOIN 6 News in May he “can’t fathom” any reason Niko would be denied except that he has Autism.

“I haven’t seen anything this blatant in a long time,” Magella said. “You know, it’s 2017. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has been around for almost 30 years, and to see something so profound and blatant was just surprising to me.”

Now Niko “couldn’t be more excited to get on a plane.”

Loreta was not able to say exactly how it came about, but in a post shared on his Facebook page, Niko said “There were people talking to people for a while and it finally got worked out.”

Niko’s Facebook post said: 

Hey everyone,

I wanted to let you know that I am definitely going on the UN trip next month! There were people talking to people for a while and it finally got worked out. I couldn’t be more exited to get on a plane!

I want to thank everyone who spoke out for one Autistic kid who hear the word “no” and said “why not?” Also to Gordon at DRO for being my voice. To my parents I am especially grateful, and understand that this is my destiny. You have taught me well.”

Loreta also told KOIN 6 News the Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge that chose Niko’s essay plans to make a donation to Disability Rights Oregon. Niko was also invited to attend a conference in Virginia called Motomorphosis, speak at a Harper’s Playground fundraiser in the fall and will be honored at the September 25 Portland Timbers game.

Loreta and Niko are also hoping to start fundraising to train other Oregon families with non-speaking children to use letter boards like Niko’s.

Amy Frazier contributed to this report.