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      Living with autism

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 88 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder. The odds are five times greater in boys.

      Courtney Summerset who was diagnosed as autistic said, "It is hard. When I was little I tried to walk and I can't walk far as everybody."

      Courtney's mother, Dee Ann Summerset added, "by the time she was two, I just knew she wasn't the average child."

      After multiple visits to the doctor's office and hearing so many inaccurate diagnoses, Dee Ann took matters into her own hands.

      It was a parents intuition that Courtney wasn't like her siblings.

      "It's kind of hard to let go of the diagnoses because we had received so many and started working on how to get her services," Dee Ann responded.

      Courtney said, "it's hard to communicate with my parents and other people."

      "She really didn't interact with us. She just sat there," her mother said.

      Just like the Summerset family, Amie Carter saw the signs early on in her son's life.

      "When I got the diagnoses, it was like I got hit by a bus," Carter said. "He will repeat himself like 30 times in a row. . . and he does the hand flapping at times."

      As parents of children with autism, they said life is a battle. That is because they found themselves worrying about other people's opinions.

      "I really got harassed in Disney World, because she didn't look different," said Dee Ann.

      However, that's not the only tough part.

      "This is my normal. I shouldn't expect that when we go to the grocery store that it is going to be smooth. I should expect that I'm going to be woke up three to four times a night," Carter responded.

      Like other 5-year olds, Carter's son is an active boy. As he grows older to become an adult, Courtney's family said there is hope.

      Rob Summerset said, "It's a lot of trying to understand their world, because they are in a different world."

      Lapeer has a support group for parents with autistic children. It is at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Lapeer. They meet the 3rd Saturday of every month at 10:30.

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