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Autism often a challenge for families


March 28, 2010
Editor's Note: This is part of an occasional series throughout the month of April, Autism Awareness Month, on autism, its effects on those who have it and their families, and the work being done to treat it. If you have information that could be useful to this series, please contact reporter Christopher Tanguay at (508) 909-4132 or ctanguay@stonebridgepress.com.

Everyone's seen it.

Walking through the grocery store, you come across a screaming child, and a parent at their wits' end. As you pass by, you think to yourself, "That kid must be spoiled."

In how many of those instances, though, would you think, "That kid might be autistic"?

The month of April is known nationally as Autism Awareness Month, and to kick off a series of stories addressing various needs specific to those families affected by autism, some people are sharing their stories in hopes that others gain a better understanding of the little-understood disorder that has many families still finding their way, day by day.

"They have to be understanding," said Andi Cropley of Sturbridge. "Just the understanding that it's one of the toughest things for a family to live with."

Autism is a wide spectrum of disorders, commonly characterized by difficulty with social integration, hypersensitivity to external stimuli and very focused and often repetitive actions. Autism can vary from highly functioning individuals, to those forever in need of constant care and supervision.

Cropley and her husband, Mitch, are the proud parents of two children: 15-year-old Jake and 5-year-old Katie.

See Monday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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