Thursday, August 12, 2010

Parents of children with autism: We struggle alone

Monday, August 9, 2010
By MICHAEL E. YOUNG / The Dallas Morning News

Her day might begin at 2 or 3 in the morning, when her 9-year-old autistic daughter, Ashlyn, wakes up next to her. And from that moment on, Jackie Polvado's life is a full-out sprint.

"Ashlyn still sleeps with me because it's the only way we can get any sleep. But I've been up day and night, like when my daughter was up for 48 hours, screaming," said Polvado of Keller.

"It's exhausting, and there's no end in sight."

For families with children with autism spectrum disorders – a range of developmental disabilities that cause social, communication and behavioral problems – each day can be emotionally overwhelming, stress-filled and isolating.

Family and friends shy away. The child's behavior can leave parents prisoners, trapped at home. If they venture out, passers-by stare, wondering why the child isn't under control.

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