Makayla Jones loves to play with her toys just like any other seven year-old, but Makayla is a little different.
At age five, she was diagnosed with autism.
"Autistic children are a couple of years behind their regular age, so Makayla is seven, but it's like she's five,” says Ashley Shows, Makayla’s mother. “So, when she would ask me for something to eat or drink, she would point. We had no communication."
Autism is a complex neuro-biological disorder which affects a child's ability to communicate and form relationships.
"Sometimes they don't show that loving relationship it's in different ways, it's not like a hug or a kiss or a friendly handshake it's other ways, you know."
During Autism Awareness Month, Shows paints the family's race car and makes t-shirts for Makayla, hoping to educate others.
Just last week the CDC released new risk factors for autism: advanced paternal age, a mother’s obesity during pregnancy and chemical exposure to expecting mothers and young children.
Also, 1 in 68 children show signs of the disorder.
Michelle Yetman, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at LSU Health Sciences Center, says early detection is key.
Doctors say knowing and learning more about autism will help others become more understanding of Makayla and her personality.
"I love my baby, and she is who she is, and I'm blessed and that's how I work with it,” says Shows. “I just deal with makayla. I don't want her to be different."
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