Family of 9-year-old with autism spreads message of life ahead of Autism Speaks Walk

HOUSTON – One in 44 U.S. children has autism. One in 45 adults is living with the disorder, according to the CDC. Here locally, these stats translate to some 165,000 Houstonians.

In the game room of the Durand house, 9-year-old Jackson schooled KPRC’s Zach Lashway on Star Wars facts while building Legos. The two talked about school and what Jackson liked and did not like.

“English is my hardest, so definitely not like that,” Jackson explained he preferred another subject. “Science!”

Jackson has autism. Not hitting developmental markers he was diagnosed when he was 2 years old.

When asked what autism means to him, he said, “I don’t know. That’s a question for my mom.”

Brittany Durand, Jackson’s mother explained, “A lot of things. To me, it is beautiful and joy because it is Jackson. It is different for everyone, and it is hard, but it is amazing at the same time. Clinically, the way I tell Jackson, his brain just works a little different.”

Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. The disorder has many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3, according to Autism Speaks, an advocacy and research organization aimed to enhance the lives of those impacted by autism. Upon Jackson’s diagnosis, Brittany received a 100-day tool kit from Autism Speaks, which ultimately opened doors and opportunities for Jackson and his family.

“We have a whole second family come see us, get a sense of community, especially as caretakers, you can have really hard days and really amazing days, it’s all worthwhile,” explained Brittany.

Happening Saturday, October 22, the Autism Speaks Walk returns to Houston at Lynn Eusan Park at University of Houston.

Registration opens at 8 a.m. Click here to register.

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