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The Oprah Episode That Changed Their Lives

Courtesy of Candi Calderone

Our Luke has been a card-carrying member of the autism community since the age of 20 months. Today he’s 7.

I still remember seeing that episode of Oprah on April 6, 2007. On the TV screen were the words “signs of autism” followed by four statements that described my little boy to absolute perfection. The a-ha moment I never wanted.

Then came the doctors, who all said the same thing: “We don’t know much about autism and we don’t know how to help your son.” And then there were friends and family—confused, sympathetic, helpless to help us but with the best of intentions.

Life in our home is not pretty. I couldn’t sugarcoat it even if I wanted to. The dings in the walls, the broken door handles and the missing curtains tell their own story. Our son throws tantrums, big ole messy ones that last for what seems an eternity. He is in constant motion from the minute he wakes until his eyes finally close at night. 

But life in our home can be fun. We laugh—oh boy, do we laugh. We make fun of each other and find joy in simple moments and tiny victories.

We did not choose this life, but we do everything we can to make it the best it can be. We have found inner strength buried way down deep inside us, and learned to rely on others. We have found a way to come to terms with a diagnosis that threatened to be our undoing. And we will spend the rest of our lives trying to find ways to help our boy.

By Candi Calderone, mom of Evan, 14, Luke, 7, and Gia, 1

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