Autism Self-Advocate and Motivational Speaker
David Sharif, a global autism self-advocate, was well known for his commitment and drive to increase understanding and acceptance of those on the spectrum as well as others. He served as motivational speaker with RespectAbility’s Disability Training and Speakers Bureau and frequently contributed articles to Jewish Disability Perspectives newsletter.
Early Life and Education
David was the valedictorian for the Class of 2015 and became the first student from Village Glen West (VGW), a multi-disciplinary special needs school administered by The Help Group, to attend a four-year university out of state. In 2019, David graduated with honors from Pace University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Peace & Justice Studies.
He studied abroad in Ecuador, Spain and Germany as part of the Model United Nations team. Additionally, he received a research grant during his senior year to conduct an exploratory study on post-secondary educational opportunities for those with autism spectrum disorders.
In addition to his studies, he published a book of poetry and served as motivational speaker with RespectAbility – a non-profit led by disabled people. As an active contributor to Jewish Disability Perspectives, he served the neurodiversity community as job coach, community moderator, poet and author.
David Sharif, a graduate of Pace University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Peace & Justice Studies, works as a job coach to assist those with intellectual disabilities in leading fulfilling lives as an independent individual. Additionally, he takes cases to trial as a personal injury attorney with Marks & Harrison.
He was the first student from his specialized day school in Sherman Oaks, California to attend a four-year university. For his senior year he participated in Model United Nations and studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Ecuador.
He was an inspiring global autism self-advocate and member of the RespectAbility community. His passion was sharing his own neurodiversity journey so others can find fulfillment in their lives.
Achievements and Honors
David Sharif was an incredible, driven, intelligent, unique, passionate and caring young man who made a lasting impact on many lives. He served as autism self-advocate, motivational speaker, community moderator and poet.
He was a graduate of Village Glen West, an educational institution run by The Help Group, and valedictorian for the Class of 2015. Subsequently, he continued on to Pace University where he majored in political science.
As an alumnus of Pace’s Oasis program, he received comprehensive support for his undergraduate success. Furthermore, he spent much of his time studying abroad – in Quito, Ecuador; Barcelona, Spain; and Berlin, Germany.
David Sharif was a lifelong learner who had the courage to be an inspiring beacon of hope and support for those with autism. He contributed his talents as job coach, community moderator, poet, and author in service of neurodiversity around the world.
He graduated with honors from Pace University with degrees in political science and peace and justice studies. Additionally, he published a collection of poems entitled “The Empowerment of My Condition.”
His love of travel and independence made him an invaluable member of the international community. When traveling abroad, he’d honor his Jewish heritage by wearing a yarmulke or visiting monuments commemorating significant moments in Israel’s history.
David Sharif, born Michael Demitri Shalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt on April 10, 1932, was an actor whose career started in Egypt’s film industry before taking him to Hollywood. His breakthrough role as Sherif Ali in director David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia earned him international recognition and earned him an Oscar nomination.
He went on to star in several classics, such as Behold a Pale Horse and Genghis Khan. Ultimately, his performance in Doctor Zhivago earned him two Golden Globe nominations.
Sharif was an accomplished actor and world-class bridge player, publishing a column on the game for The Chicago Tribune and co-authoring numerous books and video games about it.
He was known for his gambling habits, which cost him a substantial amount of money. According to The Guardian, in 2003 he lost PS200,000 when head-butting a police officer after losing to them in an altercation.