Living with Autism

Amazing Acts of Love

On this very personal episode of “Katie,” Katie speaks to individuals living with autism and their families about their challenges and triumphs. Filmmaker Andrew Jenks from “World of Jenks” gives a glimpse of a day in the life of a teenager living with autism. Then, Dr. Temple Grandin takes us inside her amazing mind. Plus, Rick Hoyt and celebrating amazing caregivers–everyday parents who are heroes to their kids!

Children are being diagnosed with autism at an alarming rate. Today, 1 in 88 children is considered to have some form of autism. In the next decade, 500,000 children with autism will turn 18. They’ll be facing a huge crossroads and how they can lead happy and productive lives is a huge concern for them, their families and the nation. In his television series World of Jenks, documentary filmmaker Andrew Jenks follows 21-year-old Chad DenDanto, a high school student with autism from Port Jervis, New York. In the year they spend together, Andrew witnesses the challenges Chad faces as an individual with autism testing his limits and the strides he makes as a young man growing up.

“There is more to me than autism.” –Chad DenDanto

After being diagnosed with autism at age three, Dr. Temple Grandin went on to become a pioneer in the field of animal science and a best-selling author. Claire Danes brought Temple’s story to life in the HBO movie Temple Grandin.

“We’ve got to stretch these kids.” –Temple Grandin

Autism is still very much a mystery and the science behind it seems to be constantly changing. Liz Feld is the president of Autism Speaks, the world’s largest advocacy organization for research and awareness.

“There aren’t a lot of answers yet.” –Liz Feld

When Kristine Barnett from Hamilton County, Indiana received the news that her two-year-old son Jacob may never learn to read or tie his shoes, she was devastated. But she noticed a spark in him and she says following that spark changed their lives forever.

“We needed to be focusing on what he could do.” –Kristine Barnett

51 years ago, Dick Hoyt’s son Richard was born with an umbilical cord around his neck, severely damaging his brain and leaving him unable to walk and talk. At 12, technology finally gave Rick a voice and in 1977, Rick decided he wanted to run a 5K in honor of a local athlete who’d been paralyzed – and he wanted to run with his dad. That became the start of a lifelong passion for both father and son. Nearly 1,100 races and triathlons and 36 later, the pair is still going the distance.

“There isn’t anything you can’t do as long as you make up your mind to do it.” –Dick Hoyt

Jeffrey Wright is a very special teacher from Louisville, Kentucky. Through his example, he’s not just teaching his students to do better, he’s inspiring them to do good. Jeffrey’s son is one of very few people in the world living with Joubert Syndrome.

“It’s the love and care for each other that make it all worthwhile.” –Jeffrey Wright

Do you know someone living with autism? Share your personal stories with us below.