Moms & Dads

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Holding Leo's Hand: Watching Little Brother

"How many autistic children do you have?"

The question stunned me. We had brought Leo, 3, and his brother Angelo, 1, to an event at Nova Southeastern University, where other autistic children and their parents had an opportunity to relax, play and mingle. Leo was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is on the Autism Spectrum, earlier this year. We enrolled him at the Baudhuin Preschool, where he's getting the kind of intensive educational treatment he needs to adapt to his condition and thrive. We're pleased at the progress he's been making so far. We know we have a long way to go.

"How many autistic children do you have?"

Why had it not occurred to me, before I was asked this question, to even wonder whether Leo's little brother might be facing the same challenge?

Angelo is now 18 months old. He's definitely talking more than Leo did at his age. In fact, there are times when it seems Angelo's brain moves faster than his mouth -- he wants to say things, to communicate things, but doesn't yet know the words or how to articulate them. He strikes us all as, dare we say it, "normal."

According to a recent study, the younger sibling of a child with autism has a little less than a 20 percent chance of developing the disorder. That's a higher number than I want to confront. I see my younger son laughing on a swing, running to hug me or his Mommy, saying "cheers!" whenever Mickey picks a mouse-ka-tool. I see him stacking blocks, seven, eight, nine high (Leo could barely do seven, even when he was older than that). I don't see Angelo lining up his toys, something Leo used to do with regularity.

Is Angelo going to develop PDD or some other form of autism? We do not know. We are not worried. We'll look for the signs. We'll talk to our pediatrician. We won't be afraid.

"How many autistic children do you have?"

As many as we can love.

Categories: Autism Spectrum (5), Rafael Olmeda 2012 (5), Toddler (127)


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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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