With April being Autism Awareness Month, I reached out to a parent who has an autistic child to share her story. The fact is, now one in every sixty-eight people are diagnosed with Autism. It is almost impossible to not come across someone who has Autism.
So you ask, "What is Autism?"
Well, even Special Education teacher and Chairman of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, Shanna Payne, said it's hard to answer that question.
"It's not a disease, or affliction that has a set list of symptoms or manifestations, it's so broad and there's so many aspects that it affects in their lives."
Shanna's current student Mason has Autism. His mother, Lana Simmons, decided to share their story to help bring light to it.
Mason has had a developmental delay since he was one years old, but the doctors never diagnosed him with Autism until 2013. Shanna said, "It's been an interesting journey with him... We were afraid because we thought he may not have the opportunities to participate in things because of the Autism diagnosis."
That has yet to be the case. By looking at him, you cannot tell her has Autism. His mother shares that he likes to line his spaceships up, and he says the funniest things. His thought process is intriguing.
"And it's not bad, I think you treat those people as you would anybody else, maybe a little more patient."
She admits, it was scary sending him to a new school. Her husband, and Mason's dad is in the military. The family moved to San Angelo only a couple of years ago from Hawaii, so putting her trust into new teachers and a new school was hard. The teachers at Glenmore Elementary School have made that process an easier one, though.
"I don't think that Mason would have the progress that he would have without those teachers. I really believe they have gone above and beyond, it makes me emotional, for Mason."
His teachers have all played a big roll in communicating with Mason's parents, making sure everyone is on the same page with him and making sure Mason feels safe, which his mom said is important to him.
Mrs. Payne said those students help her as much as she helps them, "They're fun and brilliant and quirky and some of the greatest minds and some of the greatest people I've known have been my kids with Autism."
If you're in San Angelo and want to help this cause, you can attend the Autism Speaks Walk which takes place at Angelo State University on Saturday, May 3rd.