t’s the fastest growing developmental disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control an estimated 1 in 150 babies are born with Autism.
Scientists working to understand the disorder have uncovered some common characteristics among mothers of children with Autism.
It is news no parent can prepare for.
Cindy Peters, the mother of an Autistic child, says “they told us he would probably never speak, that he would probably need to be institutionalized and we would need to start planning how we were going to deal with this.”
Cindy Peters’ son Kenny, the bright eyed baby, one of two children adopted from Korea, who wasn’t talking at two.
Cindy Peters says “originally we thought perhaps there was a hearing issue because there were times when there would be loud noises and he didn’t seem to react at all.”
He was diagnosed with severe Autism and some degree of mental retardation.
Cindy Peters says “when you get a diagnose you don’t know where you are going.”
But Cindy did know she wasn’t going to let her son go and would do what it took to make that happen. A characteristic research in the journal Pediatrics suggests is common among mothers of children with Autism who, despite a higher rate of emotional and physical stress, show remarkable strength.
Cindy Peters says “stress is a sometimes a good thing for giving you the strength to go on and you have to stop and think how you are going to deal with that.”
Today, Kenny is 14, a student in the Mariposa School for Autism, founded by Cindy in 2001, inspired by the program that helped her son learn to speak at age 7.
Cindy Peters says “when a child doesn’t have the skills other children have every skill they acquire is really really special so for me to hear him say mommy was just absolutely fantastic.”
And a very special gift for this determined mom with remarkable strength.
Cindy Peters has faced most of her motherhood challenges alone. She lost her husband five years ago.
The Mariposa school in Cary, North Carolina, now has nearly 50 students who come from all over the country.
Cindy Peters is now working towards creating programs for young adults, noting that there are not enough resources for the thousands of youngsters with autism who will soon be adults including her son Kenny.
Mariposa means butterfly, a name Cindy chose, for the hope of children emerging from the cocoon of Autism.
To learn more about the Mariposa School created by Cindy Peters log onto www.mariposaschool.org
The study appears in the may issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Helen Chickering, NBC News