autism

Charles Jones' 12-year-old son, Malik, has autism. When he found out, Jones says, the news came as a shock — and fodder for plenty of fears.

"It was like a shot in the gut," he says. "I thought my son would be nonverbal, that he would never say 'I love you.' But when he started talking he wouldn't shut up."

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind’s best-selling book, “Life Animated, A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism,” tells the story of how he and his family discovered that Disney films were a way to communicate with his son Owen, who has autism.

The earlier a child with autism can be identified and get treatment the better, child development specialists say. So there's been a push to have pediatricians give all toddlers screening tests for autism during well child visits.

But the influential U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said Tuesday that there's not yet enough evidence to show that screening all children delivers measurable benefits, a decision sure to frustrate or anger many in the autism community.

In their book published this month, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, journalists John Donvan and Caren Zucker delve into the history of the good and bad intentions, sometimes wrongheaded science and shifting definitions that can cloud our understanding of what has come to be called the autism spectrum.

Raising kids is rewarding and raising kids is hard. That work is compounded when you have a child with autism. And each of these families experiences the disorder differently.

On Saturday, we heard four parents share the moment they learned their children had autism, and the signs that led them to seek a doctor's opinion. Now, we learn their experience following the diagnoses, the resources they found and help they still need.

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