Written by Dick Pryor on Friday March 20, 2009
We had a little different kind of program this week on Oklahoma Forum. Not legislators or other elected officials; not leaders of agencies or organizations; not authors, academics or experts in their professions. This week, we had three real people, grassroots experts whose expertise comes from their own experiences…with autism.
Shannon Roberson and Chris and Melissa Ackerson told their stories about living with autism. Each has a child with autism (Shannon actually has two). They discussed the disorder and how it has affected their lives.
Melissa told me that she and Chris had debated about having more children, since autism sometimes runs in families. The Ackersons didn’t give in to fear, and recently had a second child, a girl. There’s a good chance she will not have autism, since girls are affected much less often than boys, but they probably won’t know for sure for another 2-3 years. The age of 3 is normally when an autism diagnosis can be made, after watching how the child relates to other people in social settings and doing other diagnostic testing.
They also discussed treatment, which is performed by people like Shannon, and how that can be effective in helping those with autism learn how to manage the disorder, attend mainstream classes and have a productive life as an adult.
This is an important program, since this autism spectrum disorders (ASD’s) are a growing national health concern. I hope you will tell your friends and watch the program, as we talk about, in very human terms, the reality of living with autism.
Until next time,
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