Autism Speaks: Autism, So Little Understood

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IMRIC and You
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Molly Livingstone

Molly Livingstone

Molly Livingstone never did well at science, but that hasn’t stopped her from appreciating it. Here at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) she is able to witness first-hand, the innovative breakthroughs changing the face of medicine, on a daily basis. Living in Israel, Molly has the opportunity of visiting the IMRIC labs, talking with the students and faculty about their latest research, and getting to know the people behind these great minds.

The Levine-Kanji family
The Levine-Kanji family

I wanted to share this blog post from Ilyse Levine-Kanji that I read this past week. I thought it gave an inside view on life with Autism.

This is a post by Ilyse Levine-Kanji, a former employment discrimination lawyer who now devotes her time to caring for her two sons, Sam (15) and Troy (13).  For more of Ilyse's advocacy work on behalf of people with autism, check out ilyselevinekanji.com

One of the most frustrating things about autism is that so little is known about the disorder. 

When my son Sam was diagnosed at 26 months in 2000, we were told that a primary hallmark of autism is social disinterest and the desire to be alone.  Sam is now 15 years old.  While his social interactions are often quirky and unexpected (to say the least!), Sam has a deep desire to connect with others.  Sam is always willing to go to the grocery store or run errands with me, primarily because he’s excited to see who we will run into.  People joke that Sam acts like “the mayor,” greeting everyone he sees by name and with an enthusiastic fist bump.  (Again, we were told that people with autism have trouble recognizing others, which also hasn’t been true for Sam.) 

What is accurate is that Sam has tremendous difficulty communicating.  He speaks in full sentences, but it is often a struggle for him to communicate his thoughts.  One way that Sam compensates for this difficulty is by painstakingly planning out what he is going to say to someone before he sees him or her.  Sam has many rehearsed scripts in his head that he pulls out depending on the person.  One of his favorites is telling jokes that might be specific to a certain profession or situation.  For instance, I think each of our town’s police officers now know the answer to Sam’s joke, “Why did the police officer go to the baseball game?”  (Because someone was stealing 2ndbase). 

Sam’s astounding memory helps him remember to whom he has told each specific joke or story so that he doesn’t repeat himself. 

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To learn more about Autism research at IMRIC click here