Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Autism

It's been all over the news lately; I overheard some Chads on the bus saying it was the "disease du jour". But my family has been dealing with this problem for almost 20 years. My nephew was originally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder when he was about 7 years old. So for the following 6 or 7 years, he spent his adolescence doped up on Ritalin, which only seemed to make him more reclusive. After years of trying to get a true diagnosis of her son's condition, my sister took him to a specialist in Pittsburgh who diagnosed him with something we had never heard of before - Asperger's Disorder, an Austism variant.

In Asperger's Disorder, affected individuals are characterized by social isolation and eccentric behavior in childhood. There are impairments in two-sided social interaction and non-verbal communication. Though grammatical, their speech may sound peculiar due to abnormalities of inflection and a repetitive pattern. Clumsiness may be prominent both in their articulation and gross motor behavior. They usually have a circumscribed area of interest which usually leaves no space for more age appropriate, common interests. Some examples are cars, trains, French Literature, door knobs, hinges, cappucino, meteorology, astronomy or history. In my nephew's case, it's medieval history.

John is aware of his condition. And he's taken it upon himself to host a group in the AutismSpeaks Walk-A-Thon back home this weekend. His fundraising goal is just $1,000. If he could meet or even surpass the goal, it would give him a sense of accomplishment that he doesn't get a chance to feel very often. If you can donate anything - $20, $25 or more - it would be greatly appreciated.