TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism is a condition that affects an estimated one in 59 children in the United States today.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, two local families are sharing their stories to help spread acceptance of people with special needs.
Kecia Heard’s son Kai is a super hero.
“He’s my little warrior,” said Heard. “I also got him a little cape.”
This little warrior has autism.
“They are human, just like the rest of us,” said Heard. “They just think a little differently, that’s all.”
The condition characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and non-verbal communication.
“It’s hard because sometimes you think, ‘Well, OK, this child over here is the same age and he’s doing this,” said Heard. “You never want to compare your child to somebody else.”
The 3-year-old receives occupational, physical and speech therapy.
“We’ve been through a lot together, but I wouldn’t pick a better person to go through this life with,” said Heard.
Daily struggles that can be hard for those in outside situations to understand. Stacey Black and her family have some understanding.
“While there are a lot of struggles, there are so many laughters and there’s so many neat things that come along with that,” said Black.
Her twin 16-year-old sons were born prematurely at 26 weeks. They are now both on opposite ends of the autism spectrum.
“Just because you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” said Black. “They’re all each and individually their own. And great and wonderful in that in itself.”
Black encourages families to seek support from other parents of children with special needs.
“If you Google anything online, it’s just so overwhelming and one report contradicts another report,” said Black. “So, I stopped doing that a long time ago and I just started going to the parents around here and just asking them for advice and opinion.”
Learning to help her sons succeed at life.
“They want the same things that anybody else wants,” said Black. “They want friends, they want to be included, they want love and acceptance and they want a life. And, as parents, we want the same things for them as you would want for any child.”
Something Heard wants other parents to understand.
“If you know someone with an autistic child, just ask questions,” said Heard. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, you know. But, please do not assume that you know everything. ‘Cause I promise you that you don’t!”
Autism Speaks provides autism resources. You can find information about the signs and treatments here.