TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

July 30, 2008

The diagnosis of autism is a heart-breaker

The first time I heard the word “autism” it it did not communicate much to me; I had no idea what the word meant and had never met anyone with the diagnosis. I had seen a movie during the 1980s about a little boy who hid under a table in a fetal position and could not communicate but it did not touch my life.

In later years I saw “Rain Man” and thought, “How sad!” It was not until it touched my own family that I began to read everything about it that I could find in bookstores and libraries. Then the subject came up on several talk shows such as “Oprah” and “Larry King Live,” with parents relating their ways of coping with the condition. And sadly, the numbers increase each year.

Autism or ASD or (autism spectrum disorder) is occurring at an alarming rate and is the fastest growing developmental disability in the world today. Autism is a neurobiological condition that significantly impacts the way a person perceives the world, interacts with people and communicates. Researchers around the world have been scrambling to come up with some answers and define the cause of autism, but so far the answers elude them. To date, autism remains a mystery. But there is lots of speculation out there.

Parents and grandparents like myself are at a loss for words to describe the heart-breaking scenario that is occurring in our homes and others across the land. One day your toddler is acting like any child of the same age and the next day he will not make eye contact and is oddly spinning his toys or lining them up instead of playing with them in the usual manner with a distant look on his face.

The child begins to violently resist the everyday routine and runs up and down the hallway as if someone is chasing him, looking over his shoulder. He bites his arm and hits himself in the head.

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