Monday, June 13, 2011

Autism Is a Family Affair

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Heather and John Cleek Jr. of Columbia became alarmed when
their youngest son, Thomas, lost his speech ability when he was
two-years-old. Heather, who has a masters of education in early
childhood special education, knew that they had to seek help quickly. They
immediately took Thomas to the Central Missouri Regional Center, where he
was diagnosed with mild autism.
Thomas is now 11, and is a fifth grader in public school. While a large part
of his day is in special education, he also takes general classes with regular
education kids
Academically, he is about three to four grades behind, and has learned how
to read at a second grade level. Due to his memorization skills, his favorite
subject is math.
Like many children with autism, Thomas’s interests are pretty narrow. He is
a huge sports enthusiast. While he plays a variety of sports, his favorite is basketball, and he has played on school teams. He also won two silver medals and
a gold medal at this year’s Special Olympics swim meet. His favorite basketball team is MU, and the family often attends games together.

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