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World Autism Awareness Day

Duncan_Thursday, April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day and April is Autism Awareness Month. It's all about bringing attention to a disability that has no clear definitions or boundaries. One in 150 children are diagnosed with autism. There's no definite or known cause. And there's no cure either.

Lindsay Whaley's a single mother of two: a 2-year-old named Hannah and a 5-year-old named Justin.  Justin has severe autism. In many ways, Justin's just like any other kid. He loves to run and play and adores his Scooby Doo. But he just can't tell us. "The few language skills he does have, he can say Scooby Doo, momma, and stuff like that," said Whaley.

Sometimes the only way he finds to express himself is with outbursts. "People look at him funny. They stare. They make comments to me. They make comments to each other. And that you know is not just rude, he knows it. He's aware of it." But his mom says that doesn't stop him from loving. "He's very smart, very bright, extremely sweet, the world's greatest kid, to me, but I'm a mom so kind of biased on that."

But Justin rarely sits still and always has to have something in his hands. His mom just wants to help her son live a normal life. "I'm doing everything I can that I know to do to make sure that he does have a future. That he can live on his own and have his own family. That's my goal."

For now, Justin goes to school like every other 5-year-old. His teacher has taught special education for 17 years.  She said for him to try to live that normal life, there needs to be greater acceptance from the community. "It's highly important to become aware of it and to educate the community and people for tolerance, for acceptance and just how we can best educate these children," said Darla Skinner.

"If people knew exactly what it was, then they would have a little more compassion. So that's all I'm asking for really," said Whaley.

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