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Star and Kimberley: Prize Winners Share Their Stories

Date Published: 
March 12, 2012

Families that registered with the Simons Simplex Community @ Interactive Autism Network (SSC@IAN) were entered into a drawing for an iPad or Kindle, with one chance to win for each family member that they registered. On December 12, 2011, two lucky prize winners were selected.

Star wins the iPad

Star smiles after winning an iPadStar Lazarow won the iPad, and couldn’t believe it. “We were not having a good autism day on the day I received the call that I won the iPad,” she told us, and the news definitely served to brighten her afternoon.

Star has been on a long autism journey, fighting for a diagnosis from the time her son was 18 months old. Although her son’s doctors reassured her that he would “grow out of it,” she knew that something was wrong and that her son was not communicating in the same way as other children his age.  She suspected autism after seeing a movie on television featuring a child with the condition and recognizing the symptoms in her son. She began to search the internet, reading every article she could. That’s how she heard about the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC) study. She tried to sign up with the SSC site at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston right away, but her second child was still too young to participate as an unaffected sibling. Determined, she waited until he was a little older and tried again. This time, her family was accepted. “My family entered the study and it felt like we were part of a community working towards healing,” Star said. “Then we were given the opportunity to join IAN. We thought it would be wonderful to join so that we could be part of a larger community dedicated to connecting parents as well.”

Star was especially pleased to win the iPad because she had heard that some iPad apps are perfect for children on the autism spectrum. “My family has wanted one for some time so we could use it as a communication tool for my five year old son,” she told us. “Some days he has issues with finding the words to finish his thoughts. I believe with the iPad, we will be able to aid him in connecting those thoughts.”

Kimberley wins the Kindle

Kimberley and her daughter won the KindleKimberley Harris believed someone was playing a joke on her when she got the call about winning the Kindle. “I’d never won anything in my life,” she told us. “My first thought was: ‘Are you serious’?” After we convinced her that she really had won a Kindle, Kimberley shared her autism story.

“When my daughter, who is now thirteen, was very young, I suspected she might be deaf,” Kimberley told us. “She was almost completely unresponsive to her name, and even to the sound of a pair of blocks being clapped loudly behind her.” A test showed no hearing impairment, however, and with a sinking heart Kimberley made an appointment with a neurologist for an evaluation. The night before the appointment, she watched a program about a piano prodigy who also had autism. The child’s mother described the behaviors she’d noticed early on, including lining up toys and toe walking. Kimberley felt a jolt of recognition; her daughter had done almost all of the same things. The next day, she was ready to list them for the doctor.

After the official diagnosis, Kimberley was attending an autism seminar at a local church where she saw a Simons Simplex Collection table and spoke to the Emory University SSC site staff. Within a couple of weeks, she and her family were accepted into the SSC. “Going through the process of the evaluations and interviews for the Simons Simplex Collection really made me aware of all the ways there are to help her,” Kimberley said. “Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I began to be able to think: How do we manage? How do we make a plan that will help her and the whole family?” Now, just a few years later, Kimberley’s daughter is doing well, getting along with other children and being much more social with her family.

Kimberley joined IAN and SSC@IAN just recently, wanting to stay in touch with the SSC, which has played such an important role in helping her daughter and her family make such progress.

We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Star, Kimberley, and the more than 1,100 families that have already registered to participate in SSC@IAN, the continuation of the SSC.

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