Navigating the World of Autism (Full Version)

George’s mind is quite unique and really endearing. George is fascinated by the tower outside his window. They’ve been companions for years. He’s also very involved with maps and directions
and street names and highway names. He’s like his own Google Maps. He just retains it all remarkably. He’s just a sweet, kind kid who’s got a great big heart and super sweet soul but how he interacts with people, how people perceive him,
that’s something that’s concerned me for a very long time as a parent. Recently, we were able to get together with SPARK research match
which then in turn allowed researchers to find out that George
was a good fit for their study. SPARK is an online genetic study for individuals with autism and their family members and research match is the registry part of SPARK where families can learn about studies
that are relevant to their family members with autism. I’ve been working with children with autism for about 20 years. I’m interested in studying how kids socialize
and how we can help them improve how they make friends. Research match has helped us reach a much larger group of families
and let them know about the study and had brought in families to our clinic for the studies. We’re trying to help them feel more comfortable and feel more confident
and feel like they have tools to approach other kids their age. I think the great thing is that it was a chance for him to interact with other kids close to his own age
that are also on the spectrum and just learn how to be more considerate. As the study went on for weeks and weeks they got to know each other better. It was great to see how all four of the boys really found ways to play together,
to get to know each other, and even to resolve conflict. The boys all started as strangers but now they’re close friends
and whenever they see each other, they can just pick up right where they left off. I learned a lot from the social group study about how to interact with George
more as a person than as a parent. It started out as science which was good. We were excited to be part of the genetic study
and then after that it became so much more. It far exceeded any expectation we could possibly have had about what we would do,
who we would meet, and how helpful it would be to George. That’s it. Oh wait, it’s Veterans Parkway. Veteran’s Parkway? I didn’t know that. Then why didn’t you look at maps when you were a kid?

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