Autism: Breaking Down the Barriers

Autism: Breaking Down the Barriers

A couple struggles to raise their twins -- one of whom has a developmental disorder. (Roanoke Times)

When Karen Wu and her husband Ben McConnell found out they were having twins, they imagined them, well, being a lot alike.

But when one of the twins was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age 2, they realized their two children would probably not lead the parallel lives they had envisioned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates an average of one in 110 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders each year.

Wu and McConnell’s daughter Molly is now three and attends a preschool for kids with autism and also receives intensive behavior therapy at the center. Her twin brother, Peter, who is unaffected by autism, attends the same preschool, which has a “peer model” structure.

This story by the Roanoke Times is a portrait of a family struggling to cope with a high need child, and the loving parents who want to do all they can to smooth the way for her. Molly’s therapy is not covered by insurance and they pay for it with money they’d hoped to spend on a college fund. They say this is what they have to do right now.

This project includes the video, a text story, photo gallery, interactive graphics and resources for families, all packaged together in an easy-to-navigate page of the Roanoke Times website.

CHANNEL: Roanoke Times

Length: 4:13

Photos and Video by Jeanna Duerscherl
Story by Courtney Cutright