MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

And I'm Alex Chadwick. And we are continuing the Autism Chronicles.

BRAND: Yesterday in part one, we introduced you to single mom Amy Thompson. Amy's kids are four-year-old Olivia and six-year-old Kollin.

CHADWICK: Kollin is autistic, a recent diagnosis. Now, Amy is struggling to find help for him. Today, producer Dan Collison follows Amy to a local support group for parents of autistic children.

Unidentified Woman #1: There's brownies over there and coffee. Help yourself.

Ms. AMY THOMPSON (Single Mother, Niles, Michigan): My name is Amy Thompson. This is my first time coming to any autism meeting. I've been wanting to come, and with scheduling and things like that, I haven't been able to make one, and with me just learning about the different things that are wrong with my son - or right, in a wrong way...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. THOMPSON: I'm having a hard time focusing on what I need to do, which doctor to take him to, which meetings to go to. You know, I'm clueless. Kollin was diagnosed in April. So, you know, I'm new to this, and I'm scared, and doctors don't help much.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman #2: How old is your son?

Unidentified Woman #3: How old is he?

Ms. THOMPSON: He's six and a half.

Unidentified Woman #4: If he has autism, and it's been diagnosed early, then hopefully early intervention will work.

Unidentified Man: It's not going to hurt.

Ms. THOMPSON: I've been taking him to the pediatrician, and they kept telling me, you know, well, let's wait until he's in school, let's wait until he's in school. And I kept telling the pediatrician, no, there's something not right. He's doing things differently. He's not talking like he's supposed to. And they didn't have anything to give me on that. I couldn't get any doctors to listen to me. My son's pediatrician, you know, for the longest time, I kept telling them, there's something not right, there's something wrong, there's something wrong, and they kept saying, well, wait until he gets into school, wait until he gets into school. And it's like, you know, well, I know there's something wrong. Please do something, and...

Unidentified Woman #4: It's tough, because a lot of people are afraid. Doctors are the gods, and what they say is true. So, you try to tell people to go with your gut feeling. If that doctor doesn't work, you go to the next one.

Ms. THOMPSON: There's that sense of time ticking away, of what you can do to kind of realign where he's going. I didn't know that Kollin had autism at the time. I just had that sense of time-ticking-away kind of feeling, and nobody wanted to do anything to help me.

Unidentified Woman #5: He's on the mild end of the spectrum, so, thank God. But you know, how do you know before they're six and, you know, they're already in these patterns that you can't reverse?

Unidentified Woman #1: You don't. You really don't.

Unidentified Woman #2: That pediatrician should have been on top of this.

Unidentified Woman #1: Yes.

Ms. THOMPSON: He's no longer my pediatrician.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Man: I'd say you knew before the doctor knew. You knew...

Ms. THOMPSON: Mom knows. If he sits for two hours and plays with the same toy without moving, you know, there's something not right there.

Unidentified Woman #2: (Unintelligible) State of Michigan offer services for zero to three years.

Ms. THOMPSON: I hadn't - I have no idea.

As soon as the bell rings and he's done with school, I still have Kollin at home, and what do I do with him there? Are there therapies that I can take him to? Is there - are there groups I can take him to? Is there something that I should be doing for him at home that could be helping him? There's a lot of things that I don't understand. It's a very overwhelming feeling to not be sure of where to find the resources.

Unidentified Woman #4: There's lots of parents out here, and there's lots of parents who are willing to support, because we've all been through it, yah.

Ms. THOMPSON: I was really encouraged to come to this meeting tonight, and I'm very glad that I did, very glad, because I see that there's other people that have children with the same qualities as my son has.

Unidentified Man: He sounds like Alex when Alex was that age, and Alex didn't talk 'til he was four years old. But you know, now, he's 10 years old now, and Betty has worked with him really intensively, and right now, he was picked for the Science Olympiad.

Unidentified Woman #2: Way to go.

Unidentified Woman #1: Wow.

Unidentified Man: Yeah, I'm very proud of him for the - you know, there were times when I sat there and thought he's going to be living with me forever.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman #3: He's still going to live with us, but he's going to be supporting us.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. THOMPSON: That's hopeful. It's hopeful to hear that there's hope that he might grow up and be a functioning adult.

Unidentified Woman #4: If you need a shoulder, you need to talk to someone, give me a call, OK?

Ms. THOMPSON: Thank you, thank you.

Unidentified Woman #4: Do you want my number?

Ms. THOMPSON: Yes, please.

BRAND: Tomorrow, our series continues. We go with Amy and Kollin to an autism specialist to figure out a treatment plan and how to pay for it.

CHADWICK: The Autism Chronicles series is produced by Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister for Long Haul Productions, in association with Chicago Public Radio.

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