David is a beautiful child, with deep blue eyes, sun-streaked hair and a smile that infuses delight. He loves to run and jump and climb. He lives life with an intensity that is contagious, abounding in exhilaration and enthusiasm. I can't help but revel in his joy.
But when I'm around his peers, a relentless pain starts gnawing in my gut. A harsh reminder he's not the same.
I marvel at other kids. They are so advanced and skilled. Speaking in complex sentences they engage in elaborate games of their own imaging. Toilet-training and self-feeding are no longer issues. They walk alongside the shopping cart at the store and stay on the playground at the park. Birthdays and Christmas are days of celebration--they love receiving gifts and know how to open them. Their heads turn when you call their name, and they look into your eyes when you speak to them . . .
. . . they call it AUTISM.