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Autistic Standby Steals Show

You've heard the old saying, "The show must go on."

Well, the curtain almost didn't go up on a play in Mountain View Elementary School in Dauphin County, Pa., when the young lead got sick just minutes before show time.

And that, reports Eric Shudiske of CBS affiliate WHP in Harrisburg, Pa., is when an unlikely star was born.

Katy Shriner, 9, is autistic. She didn't speak her first words until she was more than four-years-old.

But she suddenly found herself at center state.

"We were doing costumers and getting dressed, and one of the kids said to me, 'Rachel's in the bathroom, throwing up!" recalled Luanne Williard, a teacher who directed the play.

That's when Williard remembered that Katy had memorized all the lines, dances and songs of another play, even though, just as with this one, Katy was only in the chorus. So, at the last minute, she asked Katy to become a leading lady.

And Katy accepted.

"To our amazement," Katy's mother, Robin Shriner said, "(she) did it."

How, Robin asked Katy.

"I pay attention," Katy answered, proudly.

And, says Shudiske, the audience paid attention to Katy, as she nailed the performance and saved the show.

When the play was finished, all the students on the stage put Katy on their shoulders and chanted, 'Katy, Katy."

"I hope," a teary Robin told Shudiske, "some day, somebody would see Katy for what she is. (I wish) everybody could see these children, how miraculous they are, and get to know that they really are special people, if you give them a chance."

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