Posted by Lisa Strawbridge - email
SYLVANIA (WTOL) - The numbers for autism continue to reach epidemic levels. One in 150 children will be diagnosed with the neurological disorder.
Gradually we're starting to see treatment being made available to families dealing with it. We're also starting to see parents of these children band together to help make that happen.
That's the goal of a Sylvania couple.
A family picture shows a happy and engaging baby boy. Less than a year later, that same little boy drifted away. Drew's parents Raj and Judy say, 'You saw it in his eyes.'
"His speech was going away. When he was one or one-and-a-half, he started saying some words. Then he, kind of, receded," said father Raj Parkek.
He receded into the world of autism.
Drew became one of those 1 in 150 children to be diagnosed with the disorder every year. For the past eight years, Raj and Judy have devoted their lives to bringing Drew back. "You look at him and you know he wants to talk. You know he wants to communicate. You know he wants to be part of the world."
Drews parents have tried every available therapy to help Drew. Water therapy is just part of a seven-day-a-week routine that includes behavioral therapies, cognitive, speech, occupational and physical therapies.
And it's working.
"Communication through gesture, communication through sign. Now he's more verbal in terms of expression," they tell us.
Word by word, Drew is finding his voice. Now his parents are determined to help other families going through the same thing find theirs.
"Look, there should be a realization in the world that there is something like this out there. Given the science and the resources that are available if enough effort is put behind this, we can solve this. We can find the key."
Both Raj and Judy volunteer for organizations serving the autistic community drawing on lessons learned from their son. "He has taught us humility, patience, tolerance. He has brought so many new people into our lives, so many new experiences, so many things that we didn't even know existed out there."
Their goal is to help provide services to families in northwest Ohio.
Their message is to look for the blessings in this special path. "They are the most innocent, transparent children you could ever meet. Sometimes I think it's so much easier to deal with that than it is to deal with our typical everyday lives where you're trying to figure out, 'ahh, is this really what it is, or is this the implied meaning, or is this the connotation."
They have not given up on the same hopes and dreams all parents share. "We want him to be happy. We want him to be productive. We want him to reach his full potential just like every other child."