Adrienne Kelly’s 25-year-old son, Prince, was diagnosed with autism at the age of one. He was taken to the doctor for a well child visit where he was first diagnosed with cataracts. Doctors informed his mom that cataracts were often seen in older people. He was taken back for more test and doctors eventually told her that he was suffering from autism. They ran multiple tests and finally told her that he would never be like a normal child.

Asking Kelly questions was easy; she didn’t mind speaking up about her son. When asked what was it like growing up in the home, she said, “It wasn’t too hard”. She had to treat little Prince the same way she did her other two children. In a single parent home she spoke about patience and how that was the key to taking care of her baby boy. Prince couldn’t walk on his own until he was about three years old, he wouldn’t speak or try to mumble words that a child that age would normally do. The basic needs at that age were no problem. She had done that stuff with her other children. It wasn’t until he got older when things changed.

Teaching him how to care for his self was challenging. It wasn’t as easy teaching him how to wash. It took time, but he eventually got it. Kelly said being a single parent, working, and not always having someone to look after her son meant that she had to teach him what to do. “It took time, but it was doable”. She made that clear. Prince knew how to lock and unlock the house door just in case he got home from school and Adrienne wasn’t there. He could microwave his food, use the bathroom and do all basic things needed to take care of his self until she got home. Adrienne stated that his autism didn’t stop him from learning how to do things; his learning ability was just slower than the average child’s.

Kelly described her son’s personality and what it was like for him in school. She said, “My son was always and still is a happy person. He had times when he would act out, but mostly whenever he was around large crowds. He also knew when he was being picked at”. On his way to school one morning another small boy was picking at him. He took his hat and wouldn’t give it back. Prince reacted by hitting the young boy.

Prince attended most of his school days in New York City. He was in a class where he was taught individually. It wasn’t until after he got in school that he could talk. He was able to take speech classes and learn sign language. He was separated from other students who didn’t have a disability when it was time for lunch, but like most people he had rules to follow. He even had chores. Kelly said, “In certain areas of his life he was treated differently from a normal child, but in others he was treated just the same.”

Adrienne Kelly made it clear that her son was not mentally retarded. She said that’s how his doctors and most people would identify him. “My son is not mentally retarded, he is pretty intelligent. He can have a full conversation with anyone, he may not be able to read, write or ride a bike like most young adults at his age, but he can do great things. Prince received his high school diploma and never missed a day from school. My son can swim and ice skate and knows all about personal hygiene.”

Kelly discussed many reasons why people should get informed about autism and how to deal with it in the home. When asked if she had any advice for other parents or disabled people suffering from autism she said, “Patience is the key, it’s a lot of work, but if I can do it, anyone can.”

While speaking to Adrienne about Prince, he sat in the next room and remained quiet until he was asked a few questions. When asked, “How are you?” he replied, “I’m fine thank you. How are you?” Prince was able to engage in a full conversation. His speech was different, but he understood and answered all questions.

For more information on living with autism, email amsingletary@fullsail.edu.

Words From The Author
Living With Autism is not the end of the world. We all are different and beautiful in our own special way. It doesn’t matter if you are affected by this disease, if a family member has it or just a close friend. This is no reason to give up on or not live your dreams. Learn about the disease and use what you can to DO WHAT YOU LOVE or to help someone else achieve.