autism

"Ca."

When Ranwa Yehia heard her nearly 3-year-old son, Nadeem, making this sound, she got cold shivers all over her body. After three months of saying "cat," Nadeem couldn't say the whole word anymore.

Shortly after, Yehia was told she could no longer bring her son to his nursery school unless the family could get another teacher to shadow him in class.

What was going on with Nadeem?

As the population of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder keeps growing, so does the number of people with that diagnosis who aren't finding employment.

Though many young adults on the spectrum are considered high functioning, recent research shows 40 percent don't find work — a higher jobless rate than people with other developmental disabilities experience.

When An Autism Diagnosis Comes In Adulthood

Mar 27, 2016

Earlier this year, Weekend Edition profiled three families and their experiences after a child was diagnosed with autism. At the time, we also asked listeners to share their own stories.

Among the responses were many from people who didn't get diagnosed until they were adults. Some had suspicions about their condition growing up. For others, the diagnosis was a revelation as much as it was a relief.

Here are three that struck a chord. (These first-person stories have been edited for length and clarity.)

John Consentino

Something was wrong with Nat.

I got the call about my 25-year-old severely autistic son just as I was parking, about to meet a friend for coffee. It was from Richard, the day program director. Like many adults with significant disabilities, Nat spends his weekdays at a day program, an organization that helps his employer so that he can work — he does carriage return at a local Shaw's. When Nat is not working at Shaw's, he is out in the community with support staff and other individuals in his program, volunteering at Meals on Wheels and various activities.

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.

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.

Kindergarteners take turns on the tricycles at the EEU gym class.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Cinthia Portugal is a mom of 4-year-old twins with autism, and she is scrambling to find a kindergarten for her sons.

Taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder, according to a study of Canadian mothers and children published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

But scientists not involved in the research say the results are hard to interpret and don't settle the long-running debate about whether expectant mothers with depression should take antidepressants.

'Sesame Street' has included children and a new character with autism.
Screenshot from YouTube

Jeannie Yandel talks to Dr. Wendy Stone is a professor of psychology and director of the READi lab at the University of Washington. Dr. Stone was a consultant for Sesame Street as they created their first character with autism, Julia. Julia is also a character in their digital storybook, "We're Amazing, 1,2,3!"  

Dr. Raphael Bernier of the UW Autism Center hopes a new autism study will help researchers identify biomarkers that are indicators of autism.
University of Washington

Researchers may have a handle on the genetics of autism, but they haven’t developed medical tests to diagnose it. A new nationwide study hopes to change that.

KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Holly Connor of Mercer Island started learning to read and write Braille in preschool.

Now 10, she’s one of North America’s fastest readers and writers in her age group – when it comes to Braille.

The hunt to find genes that cause autism has been a long slog, one hampered by a lack of technology and families willing to be tested.

But the effort is starting to pay off. On Tuesday, researchers at more than 50 laboratories said they had identified more than 100 genes that are mutated in children with autism, dozens more than were known before.

  Ross Reynolds speaks with novelist David Mitchell about what he says is the most important book he's done: a translation of a memoir by a young autistic Japanese boy. In the book, "The Reason I Jump," the boy explains the behaviors that may seem strange to outsiders. Mitchell himself has a child with autism. He talks about what he learned from doing the translation.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

At the Alaska Airlines ticket counter at Sea-Tac Airport, parents Ron and Christine Vega wait for their boarding passes.

Their son, Gibson, 5, carries a blue backpack that has essentials for a mock airplane trip: snacks, things to keep him preoccupied and a white cloth towel that helps him deal with stress.

An Autistic Teen's Guide To Impersonating Michael Jackson

Aug 27, 2014
Courtesy of Lorenzo Manuel

It was homecoming dance at Roosevelt High School, and the Roosevelt football team had just been crushed. As it started getting late, the energy sunk even lower. People were mostly slow dancing; it was all Taylor Swift at that point.

Just then, a familiar tune started to play. The thinning crowd began to roar. A spotlight came on. As the first lyrics of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" shook the room, a skinny kid with short brown hair and a sparkly glove began to dance.

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