Families Describe How They Felt Hearing About An Autism Diagnosis
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
When parents learn that their child has autism, it's difficult to know what to do next. How can I help my child? What are the best therapies? What will it cost? On Sunday, we'll hear how families are coping with autism. It can take years to get a diagnosis in the first place, let alone come up with a daily routine.
Today, we're going to hear from four parents who live in the Washington, D.C., area. They shared with us the moment they learned their children had autism and the signs that led them to seek a doctor's opinion.
RONALD HAMPTON: My name is Ronald Hampton, and I'm from Washington, D.C - live in Washington, lived there all my life. I have one son and two daughters, and my son is a person with autism.
SIMON: His son Quintin is 31 years old today.
HAMPTON: Around 18 months, 19 months, we noticed that he had had, like, two and three-word sentences, but all of a sudden, that ceased.
MONICA MARTINEZ: My name is Monica Matinez. I live in Bethesda, Md. I have twin boys who are 10 years old. It was really a benefit to have twins because I always had a test case, so to speak. So when the boys were about 18 months old, we had a play date with a neighborhood girl, same age. She was also 18 months, and Eric, you know, seemed to engage with her as you might expect kids at 18 months to engage. Max, however, was sitting in a corner with his back to both of the children and never engaged with the other kids. So that was my first sign that something's odd here.
CHRISTY HAMMETT: Hi, my name is Christy. I live in Bowie, Md.
SIMON: That's Christy Hammett. Her 12-year-old son Francis has autism.
HAMMETT: And so we did see the pediatrician. And the pediatrician was, you know, sending us to appointments like let's check his hearing. Let's get an MRI. Let's check his blood work to see if there's anything biologically wrong with him.
SARAH WAYLAND: My name is Sarah Wayland. I live in Riverdale Park, Md. With my oldest son, well-meaning friends and doctors kept telling us that nothing was wrong. He's a very smart boy.
SIMON: Justin was diagnosed with autism when he was nine years old. He's now 18. Wayland's other son is named Oliver (ph). She also had him evaluated as a young child. He, too, was diagnosed with autism.
HAMPTON: That day was a hard day. You don't never forget that day. That's like the day you get married. That's like the day people pass. We got a phone call, and so we went there. We went in and sat down, and we were talking to the doctor. As a matter of fact, Quintin was with us. And so he began to tell us what was going on. And it just, you know, it was very hard to hear that because, you know, everybody wants to have their child to be perfect. You know, the five toes on the five fingers and all those kinds of things - you know, you start looking at those immediately because you want to make sure that they're OK. And so, you know, to hear that your child is autistic - that was very tough to hear.
HAMMETT: We were at the neurologist, and I remember leaving there feeling so sad and so lonely and so lost. And I do specifically remember the long ride home. I remember that long road, and I don't know if that was kind of like a subliminal thing for the rest of our lives, like, this is a long journey, you know. And I think the car was so silent. I don't even remember even saying anything to each other because I - it was the final word, like, you've done all these things, but, you know what, this is what he has. This is it.
MARTINEZ: And so over time, it became this slow process of understanding that my son has autism, and that's who he is. But it was a very difficult process and very difficult in finding out - what should we do to help him?
SIMON: That was Monica Martinez, Sarah Wayland, Christy Hammett and Ronald Hampton. Tomorrow on WEEKEND EDITION, we'll hear about the help some of these families have received and what they still need.
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