A Boy, Some Bullies and Autism

I’d like you to meet my nephew, Jessie*. He loves planes and waterskiing and the Yankees. He goes to sleep-away camp in the summer and skis fearlessly in winter. The rest of the year he works hard to keep up with the other kids in his fourth grade class. He’s fast with a hug, has the sweetest laugh, and just like any pre-teen, he gets a kick out of pulling a fast one over on his mom and dad.

Ever since the age of 18 months, he’s been the hardest working kid I’ve ever met—logging 40-50 hour work-weeks in speech, occupational and all other types of therapies, in an effort to better navigate the world with autism.

And what he wants more than anything in the world is something simple—an invitation to a birthday party or a phone call asking, “Can Jessie come over to hang out?”

But Jessie’s phone doesn’t ever ring.

Jessie is one of the growing numbers of children around the world with autism. When I say ‘growing numbers’ I mean drastically growing numbers, most markedly here in the United States. Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new statistics for the incidence of autism in this country:  now, 1 in 88 children in the U.S. are being diagnosed with autism. It’s also being diagnosed in 1 in every 54 boys.

Read the whole story at the Bedford-Katonah Patch here.