Autism conference helps parents and teachers alike

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Today the East Texas Autism Coalition held a conference for anyone who sees autistic children in their daily lives.

"We are teaching about lots of issues that go with autistic kiddos and we're learning about what parents need so in the future we can provide more programs to help them," says Deidra Harrison, who is the Special Education Director at LISD.

Harrison says no time is better than now, "Autism is one of the fastest growing diagnoses for children."

Just ask Christi Wright whose seven-year-old daughter Taryn was diagnosed with autism at 2 1/2.

"It's unique.  Everyone says it's hard. I don't think it's hard.  I think having a child with autism makes life interesting."

But interesting isn't the half of it.  Taryn sees a new challenge every day.

"You have to laugh at the really funny things and chose your battles. Don't sweat the small things and let that stuff go," says Wright.

But letting it go isn't always that easy.

"We have child locks on everything that has liquid soap or shaving cream or things like that, because she'll find them and paint the wall," Wright says. "It's really not bad, it just makes things interesting."

The word interesting keeps popping up, but Wright says it's something she has learned to deal with and because of it, she's come to know Taryn very well.

"Taryn is my very best friend. She is with me 24/7, a constant companion. We are very in-tuned to each other. I think all parents with autistic children are like that and that's why you have to be calm."

Often she wonders what the future will hold for her seven-year-old, but her focus is the present.

"Right now our focus is generalizing here with her peers so she's not in a Special Ed setting all day."

For more information on autistic children, click here.

To contact the East Texas Autism Coalition, call David Cozad at the Burke Center, 936-639-1141.