Two months before we gave birth to our daughter, a close friend of ours gave birth to a baby boy. It was fun to see our children grow up together and compare notes. However, somewhere along the way, we saw things that led us to suspect that something was wrong. More specifically, we thought that their son showed signs of autism.
Autism is something that scares the heck out of me. It is now one of the most common of diseases with something like one in 50+ kids being born with it according to some of the latest polls. Even scarier, we have no way of predicting it or even knowing what causes it. The good news is that when caught early, and thanks to better detection processes, it can be treated somewhat effectively minimizing any long term effects.
Our friend's son has been getting intensive therapy this past year and a few days ago on a visit, he showed tremendous improvement in his social skills. Six months ago, he would focus on a toy and no amount of calling his name or trying to get him to focus on other things would shift his attention. This time however he actually played a bit with our daughter. His speech, though still terrible compared to peers, including our daughter, can actually be understood now when listening carefully. It was very nice to see these improvement and yet still humbling when comparing some of his other skills with our daughter.
One of the common signs of autism is hyperlexia or a extreme fascination with letters and numbers. This boy is only three and a half years old and yet he already knows how to add, subtract, divide and even multiply and not just verbally but can write it down on paper. To test his ability, his mom wrote 9x9= on a piece of paper and within seconds he had written down 81 right beside it. He also can spell complex words like mosquito or just about anything else you can throw at him. Amazing that he can do tasks that some 9 and 10 years olds can't and yet when it comes time to leave, he was hysterical because he had to leave the number 14 behind because it belonged to my daughter. His parents were embarrassed at the outburst and of course we tried to reassure them that they shouldn't be. We understood.
So why things like world peace, prosperity, etc. are being wished upon for this coming year, I myself will be praying for a cure to autism.