Everyday Wellness: Living with autism -- A mom's perspective

April 26, 2012

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April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism affects entire families -- and the recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 1 in 88 children have an autism spectrum disorder means it affects more families than previously recognized.

Ange Hemmer, of the St. Louis area, knows this all too well. Ange is a mother of two boys on the autism spectrum. Her boys -- ages 11 and 7 -- are both diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder -- not otherwise specific (PDD-NOS).

Q: What do you wish you would have learned earlier or done differently?

A: Like many parents who find out their child has autism, when Zach, 11, was diagnosed, I became obsessed with the best treatments and interventions. I spent more time researching than I did actively engaging with my son. I looked at him as a "project in crisis" instead of as a little boy needing and wanting my love and attention. When Kaden, 7, was diagnosed, I had learned that less time should be focused on "fixing" my boys and more time should be spent living and learning with them at their own developmental pace. I discovered that my time and energy was better spent changing societal perspectives rather than trying to make my boys "typical." I wish I would've figured this out much earlier.

How Purdue can help

All Purdue health plans cover occupational, physical and speech therapy visits. See www.purdue.edu/hr/Benefits/Medical/index.html for plan summary details, and contact Benefits at 49-42222 with questions.