Hope for Autism: How a boy once considered severe no longer tests on the same spectrum

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by Priscilla Luong

MILWAUKEE-- The search for a ball to play catch, ends in celebration.

"I'm feeling a lot better," said Zachary Joas, an 11-year old diagnosed with autism.

For Zachary and his family-- there's plenty to celebrate.

"I want everyone to know that autism isn't a bad thing," he said.

Zachary was diagnosed with Severe Classic Infantile Autism when he was a toddler-- the most severe form of autism.

"You realize that the child you had in your head, is maybe not going to be what's really reality," said Sarah Joas, Zachary's mother.

Sarah still remembers getting the news from his doctor.

"Maybe he won't do this, maybe he won't get married, maybe he won't have kids, maybe he won't go to college," said Sarah, "and all of those things went through my head."

Despite the thoughts racing through her head and everything people told her about autism, she was determined to help Zachary. 

"I made a decision that I wasn't going to let anyone tell me he can't do those things," said Sarah.

Zachary began intensive therapy-- and his family became involved with Easter Seals.

"When Easter Seals came in they really focused on him socializing and being with other kids," she explained.

Years later-- Zachary has come a long way.  He's now considered high functioning.

"They really helped me out a lot," said Zachary, "and I really appreciate it, because now, I can do a lot of cool stuff."

He loves to draw and can tell you almost anything about Godzilla-- but there's something even more impressive.

"He reads at an 11th grade level, he's only in 6th grade," said Sarah.

A tremendous achievement for any child.

"We really love and appreciate everything they've done for us," said Sarah.

Zachary is among the ambassadors for Easter Seals' annual "Walk with Me" event at Polish Fest.  The walk takes place Friday and is sponsored by CBS 58.

 

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