Letter to the Editor: Individuals with autism too often met with misunderstanding

August 18th, 2015 11:10 pm


Sometimes it’s pudding.

One pill in the morning and another at night. Every morning when he wakes up, my brother takes one pill to help regulate his behavior and another at night that helps him sleep. The morning pill keeps him calm, preventing possible tantrums and public outbursts. Open applesauce cups next to coffee cups. There are no magic pills.

He’s turning 16 this December. I remember holding him in my arms when he was born. Not much has changed.

My brother was diagnosed with severe autism when he was 2. At the time, I had no idea what autism was. I knew as much as my parents. The more they learned over time, the more I gradually came to understand that something was different about him.

One in 68 U.S. children fall under the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The earlier a child is diagnosed, the better chance he or she has in dealing with it. The sooner they can get therapy for it.

My brother is nonverbal, but he communicates through signs and gestures. Although we can’t communicate with one another verbally, sometimes I know exactly what’s wrong. Those are the times I hold him in my arms extra tight.

In Bill Malarkey’s letter to the editor on July 31, he wrote about an incident with his son that occurred at the Giants Despair Hill Climb, a historic hill climb established outside Wilkes-Barre in Laurel Run. It hit the fan when Malarkey’s son, who has autism, started screaming profanities at the top of his lungs when a car alarm went off. The hill climb, rising 650 feet, has six turns – including the 110 degree “Devil’s Elbow – on the way to the top. “I just wanted to get him out of there as fast as I could. I held his hand while walking down the hill. A guy started yelling at me to stop the cursing,” Malarkey writes.

Another year goes by, and my brother gets older. I worry about his future in a world with so much misunderstanding.

If we expect the world to accept autism, it must learn autism.

It’s an uphill battle.

Chris Monjelo