NORWICH - Imagine trying to make friends without understanding another’s facial expressions, gestures or body language. Nor, for that matter, being able to call upon your own.
Imagine not being able to talk until you are seven, or not learning to at all.
These are just a few of the struggles the rapidly growing number of children with autism in this county and worldwide experience on a daily basis. New data released this month in recognition of Autism Awareness Month show 1 in every 150 American 8-year-old children have the disorder. At this rate, the prevalence of autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next decade.
Cameron Comings of Norwich is one of the lucky ones. His language, social skills and independence have developed day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month since receiving support services at BOCES at the age of three. Coupled with the 24/7 support from his parents, today, at 18, Cameron is prepared to graduate from Norwich High School in June.
“I'm lucky to have a strong support system to help me express my thoughts and deal with my feelings. My biggest supporters are my parents. Without them I would never be the person who I am today,” he said.
Cameron’s mother, Cindy, tells people she has a Ph.D. in her son. She and her husband, Bill, have dedicated their lives to helping Cameron become a high functioning adult.
“It’s been a long road with a lot of battles along the way to get the schools actively involved and the proper support in place. We had to fight to keep a one-on-one aid for him all the way through school, to facilitate socializing and communication and deal with his anxiety issues. But, we were able to do that,” Cindy said. “Hopefully the road will be easier for others.”