Understanding Autism

Understanding autism

Researchers attempt to unravel the mysteries of the syndrome

They couldn’t be more different — or so it appears. One is a child who is doesn’t speak, wants to be alone, displays repetitive behaviors like rocking or flapping his hands, avoids eye contact, has intellectual disabilities and seems to lack emotion or empathy. The other is an individual with a high IQ who displays great language skills, is gifted […]


Support continues to grow for embracing neurodiversity

As support for the concept of neurodiversity and the neurodiversity movement in the autism spectrum disorder community continues to grow, so does the spectrum of controversy it creates. Neurodiversity is simply based on the idea that humans are naturally neurologically diverse, and that diversity should be valued. Autism is part of that diversity. The differences in the way the brains […]


Learning to adapt to a sibling with autism

As a toddler, Elias “Eli” NeSmith was progressing normally. The first born child of Kevin NeSmith and Leslie NeSmith of Cape Coral, he was blanketed with love and attention as his young parents nurtured his development and watched him grow. Leslie taught him words in English and Spanish. Early family videos show Eli interacting with family and friends at birthday […]

Learning to cope

A diagnosis isn’t a dead end. It’s a door.

I was drowning. At least that’s what it felt like the day our son was diagnosed with autism. I could hear the pediatric neurologist talking, but her words seemed far away. My stomach tightened, and my vision clouded as my eyes prickled with tears. Then came a million questions. Was it something I did? What would his future look like? […]

A one-stop shop

The Els Center of Excellence offers dedicated space for clients, families

“The Big Easy,” as he is known on the golf course, has made a big difference in the lives of children on the autism spectrum with the establishment of a world-class, cutting-edge center spanning 26 acres in Jupiter. Ernie Els, a PGA Tour player who has 72 career victories to his name, created The Els for Autism Foundation in 2009, […]

Getting better at understanding the broader spectrum

The current statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that an estimated 1 in 54 children in the U.S. has been identified as being on the autism spectrum sounds shocking, especially when compared to the CDC’s statistic of 1 in 150 in 2002. However, it is important to understand that the circumstances and criteria for reaching a diagnosis […]

Twin effect

Looking at the role of genetics and environment

Twins, particularly identical ones, provide intriguing case study subjects for science. They help to illuminate the extent of the role of genetics versus environment as possible factors influencing any number of medical conditions. To help with understanding autism, Florida Weekly spoke to two families with twins on the spectrum — one set identical and the other fraternal. The Karpel family […]

Life skills

Parents look ahead to children entering adulthood

Parents of autistic children describe the day the doctor delivered the diagnosis as a death, of sorts, of their little boy or girl. When the realization hits that their son or daughter will have limitations in communicating, listening, understanding and socially interacting, parents mourn the loss of the child they envisioned raising. Boca Raton resident Michelle Rubin went through it […]

Big plans

With help from family, Sean Sullivan hones his adult skills

Sean Sullivan wants to be a firefighter. “I want to help people and make sure people are safe,” he said. His mother, Rhonda Rainer, is determined to do everything she can to help make it happen. Sean, 18, has autism. His mother’s can-do attitude, advocacy and optimism are clearly reflected in her son, who believes he can do what he […]

A bright future

Innovative therapies, programs and services offer hope

As the word spectrum in the name autism spectrum disorder implies, there are a wide variety of ways ASD can manifest. As a result, not every therapy or service works equally well for every individual. Many on the spectrum respond successfully to therapies that have decades of research behind them; for them and others, innovative new therapies that also have […]

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