June 14, 2012

Parents, autistic children share special bond that spans decades

Written by Erin Kourkounis
Full story: Gannett News Service

David Bodkin says his wife is akin to a translator in a foreign country as they raise their autistic daughter.

“Amy sometimes knows what Jessica is thinking before she does,” he said. “She's able to explain why Jessica does some things and acts certain ways.”

There's a special reason for that.

Amy Bodkin, 29, a school counselor turned stay-at-home mom, has Asperger's syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum.

They are among a growing number of parents and children finding links as they jointly live with autism or autism-related disorders.

Dr. Teresa Mahaffey, a pediatrician, at Growing Child Pediatrics in Pace, Fla., said the parent-child genetic connection is a relatively new concept.

“Now that people with autism are having children, it's going to be interesting to see if their kids have it or not,” said Mahaffey, whose 20-year-old son has autism.

Take one example of the link between Amy and Jessica Bodkin, 4.

When Amy Bodkin was a child, she liked to press on her eyes repetitively because it was visually stimulating.

Jessica also started sticking her fingers between her eye and socket.

“It makes the sun come up,” Jessica said.

With her own history, Amy Bodkin immediately understood.

Autism is a disorder that affects the normal development of social and communication skills.

Asperger's is considered a high-functioning form of autism in which people affected have trouble interacting socially, repeat behaviors and often are clumsy. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders because linguistic and cognitive development are not affected.

Amy Bodkin studied the behavior of people with autism and Asperger's syndrome when she was enrolled at Mississippi State University for her master's degree in psychometry, which is a discipline of psychology and education.

Those studies cleared up a lot of questions she had about her own behavior.

David Bodkin is grateful for that insight.

“Amy is able to say, ‘She can overcome her disability like me,' as opposed to a normal parent who might say, ‘My child is disabled and will never be normal,'” he said... READ MOIRE >>

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