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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger


Recently a Facebook friend posted a note indicating that her son, who is autistic, just celebrated his 31st birthday. While I don’t know this woman well, I believe that she raised her son as a single mother for most of his life. That got me thinking about others I know who also have children with special needs.

My wife has a cousin who was born with a handicap that resembles cerebral palsy. At birth her parents were told that there was no hope for their daughter and that they should institutionalize her. Refusing to listen to the medical professionals, my wife’s aunt worked with her daughter over the years to help her manage her limitations. Today, my wife’s cousin, now in her sixties can look back on a rich life in which she’s had a loving husband, a wonderful daughter and a successful career has a medical technician.

Another friend of mine has an autistic son who shared recently that his son is working with a program that will help him live independently and perhaps even qualify to earn his driver’s license.

Several years ago, I was introduced to the son of a friend who needed some help with his job search. In my initial conversation with the young man, I learned that he had struggled with autism for most of his life. One of the challenges that this presented was that interpersonal relationships were difficult for him. This would often manifest itself in job interviews.

In spite of his diagnosis, my friend’s son managed to earn a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Automotive Engineering. Today he designs transmission for one of the major car manufacturers.

April is World Autism Month. If you’re not familiar with this condition that impact 1 in 100 children worldwide, take some time this month to learn about it and what individuals with this and other “perceived” handicaps can accomplish when they are presented with the right opportunities.

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