Fighting the War of Autism: Jack Wood

Jackwood (5 Of 21)

The alarm goes off at 6 a.m., and my mind automatically screams, “Where’s Jack?” It has been a common exclamation around our home since our son, Jack, could walk. Diagnosed with autism at age 3, the predictable thing about Jack, now 13, is that he is unpredictable and unaware of potential dangers.

His older sister, Molly, and younger brother, Grant, knew Jack was different early on and have been extremely protective of him since they were toddlers.

Jack was quite social as a baby and hit all his milestones. He walked early, but at his two-year checkup, he had no emerging language — common for autism. By the time he was 4, my once social child was slowly going into a vegetative state.

His autism is severe, and his diagnoses are extensive, which was all quite intimidating when Jack’s father, Tom, and I were learning about it. With the help of a support group and a consultant, we chose a regimen of therapies and a special diet for Jack. It takes an army to go up against the war of autism, and we are blessed with incredible caregivers, teachers, and family members who support us.

Jack is about the happiest kid I have ever met. He is a master with computers, spelling out words we never taught him, has an incredible ability to draw and can recite the entire “Toy Story 2” movie. He loves music and will break out in dance should he feel moved by a song.

He has an incredible memory, and his receptive language, or ability to understand, is 95 percent. I hope he will have expressive language at 95 percent one day.

We unconditionally love, welcome and appreciate the wonderment — even the oddity —autism and all, as he is our Jack Wood. We never take for granted hearing the words “mommy” or “daddy.”

Kim Wood is mom to Molly, 16, Jack, 13 and Grant 10, living in Charlotte.

Read another mom’s perspective on raising a son with special needs.