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Disappointed in portrayal of Autism

The rate of occurrence of Autism nationwide is at approximately 1 in 150 children at this point in time. In the state of Massachusetts however, a recent study has shown that we have a rate that is significantly higher than the national average. Here it occurs in approximately 1 in 128 children.

I am intimately familiar with life with a child on the Autism Spectrum as my three year old son also has Autism. I am disappointed that you have portrayed the family in your story "Family Shines Light on Autism" as having such grim circumstances; "hauling" their child to therapy; "the next battle begins". They have their youngest child in Early Intervention. Massachusetts has one of the best EI programs in the country. They have their older child at Meadow Brook Elementary School, which has one of the most outstanding Autism programs in all of Western Mass. It seems more like the parents are dedicated to seeking out the appropriate services their children need to succeed and are providing their children as much support as they can when they are home.

Even non-verbal children communicate through their behaviors. Fidgeting in jeans may not tell their parents what precisely is wrong with the jeans but their parents are very aware that their children are communicating discomfort by their fidgety behavior. As the adults it is our responsibility to decipher those behaviors, however long it takes. Just because some children are non-verbal does not mean that they have nothing to say.

We learn to recognize our children's unique communication style and we learn to respond to them. We establish our own communication systems.

Adjusting to everyday life with an autistic child, wherever he or she may fall on the spectrum is challenging. As parents we all learn to cope and strategize to the best of our ability. Life with a child on the spectrum is exhausting, frustrating and challenging every single day as we deal with communication and behavior challenges, sensory dysfunction, stimming and perseveration but there is more to it than that.

Our lives are filled with love for our children. Our children can smile, laugh, learn, love and live their lives.

Some of our children will learn to function independently, hold a full time job and have their own family, others will require some form of assistance for most of their lives. Our children have a different way of looking at and perceiving the world which can be a real eye opener for us if we let it. Our children can be kind, honest and loyal friends.

Our children may not become what we dreamed for them at birth and sometimes the future may be very uncertain but we can still have dreams for our children.

Our children are precious, priceless gifts and they are all perfect in their own unique way.

Kelli Ann Ross

East Longmeadow