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This mom's mission is to help her son with severe autism communicate

Eve Megargel is a mom on a mission. Her son Billy was diagnosed with severe autism 24 years ago, when he was only 2 years old. Doctors said he would be non-verbal and wouldn't be able to communicate, but Eve refused to believe that and used art and music to exceed expectations. With the exception of using speech to communicate, Billy has broken every boundary the doctors said he could never reach. Eve shares their story in her book, Learning to Kiss.

Melissa sat down with Eve to learn more about the book and when Eve first noticed something was different about her son. She also spoke about the lack of support at the time of Billy's diagnosis and how she helped pave the way for people with autism to communicate. You can see their conversation in the above video.

For more information on autism, see below.

What is autism?
Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. One in 16 children are currently diagnosed with ASD and the prevalence of the disorder has increased over 100 per cent in the last 10 years. According to Autism Speaks, it is the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in Canada.

What causes autism?
ASD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and occurs in all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups. It is a lifelong spectrum disorder but early intervention can make a huge difference.

Mental health concerns (i.e. anxiety and depression) are common in individuals with ASD. No two people with autism are the same.

What to look for
The below points may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, parents are encouraged to ask their pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

For more information, please visit the Autism Speaks website.