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Autism - Such a Disturbing Word!

Adventurer B

TV shows, books, and articles abound on the subject of autism. They immediately catch my attention because my nine-year-old grandson, Noah, was diagnosed with autism at one and a half years. While watching Larry King Live recently, I started thinking about how serious and sad parents look as they describe hearing the diagnosis. You get an increasing feeling something isn't right. It builds to the point of medical intervention, leading to a diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder which includes autism. I remember my son giving me a book on the disorder and seeing the words, ”mental retardation”. I grieved not only for my grandson but also for my son and his wife.

Noah started to school before he was age two. We had no idea at the time what the future would be for him. Would he ever be able to communicate meaningfully? Nothing could be taken for granted. We were wearing the same worried looks I see on television.

I wanted to write this blog to tell everyone there can be an ”up side” to this disorder. Noah is mainstreamed in the public school system. He is one grade behind but performing above grade level in most areas. He is very interested in numbers, which is not uncommon. He remembers everyone's birthdays and ages. At six, he could name and tell you about every dinosaur. He knows all the stats for the Maverick's players. Basketball is his passion, and he is a good shooter. I'm including a YouTube video - watch number 12 on the court! His weakest area is in social interactions. That is improving. Being able to score points gives him status with the other kids. We still have questions about his future but the worried looks are gone. He is happy/we are happy. Isn't that what we really want for our kids?

If you have or know of a child with delayed speech, poor eye contact, who seems to retreat into his or her own world, lines up toys in orderly rows, stares at fans and mechanical gears and does not point, I recommend having the child evaluated by a developmental pediatrician and/or the elementary school the child would some day attend. Early intervention is important.

Don't be afraid.