COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This is Autism Awareness Month and two families with children on the autism spectrum spoke at the Franklin County Commissioner’s meeting about their children’s unique gifts.
The Center for Disease Control said one in 68 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and one in 42 boys are afflicted, but that does not mean they are not leading productive lives.
Zayne Harshaw was diagnosed with autism at 4-years-old.
“We were told a lot of cant’s and a lot of nevers and we definitely were grieving, but we are thrilled to see him come into this fullness and his gift now,” said Gwen Harshaw, Zayne’s mother.
Now at 21, Zayne Harshaw kicked off awareness month while entertained a small, appreciative audience.
“He took seven years of occupational therapy! Because when he was younger and first diagnosed, he had severe dexterity issues, he really struggled with handwriting,” Said Mrs. Harshaw.
Zayne said he taught himself to play watching guitar greats and playing the electronic game ‘Guitar Hero.’
“I love the parts that Stevie Ray Vaughn did, I watched him play behind his back,” Zayne Harshaw said before he played for the audience.
Which Zayne did at the end of his rendition of Prince’s song Purple Rain. That drew a standing ovation. His mother said there is a message for others here.
“Along with the therapies and early intervention your child is getting, it is really easy to isolate yourself when you have a disability,” Harshaw said.
Michael Hartley’s son Xavier was also diagnosed at 4-years-old. He said since 2011 has learned along with his son. He said he drew in after the initial shock of the diagnosis and did not talk about it, even with his employer. But with time, help and therapy for Xavier through Nationwide Children’s Hospital, he wants to talk publically about autism.
“There is not a thing I would change. Our son is smart and charming, loving. A wonderful young boy,” said Hartley.
Zayne plays lead guitar in a band called Blue Spectrum with several other members who have been diagnosed with autism.
The Harshaw and Hartley families both said this month is about autism awareness and letting others know there is help out there if needed.