Parents raised two sons on autism spectrum when little was known about developmental disorder

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. - Randi and Sandy Solomon look at their family picture taken almost 30 years ago. It shows them surrounded by their three children. But what they didn't know at the time was their sons, Josh and Joel, were on the autism spectrum,

"When Josh was younger he wouldn't speak. He was a year old and didn't even say, 'Hello,'" said Randi.

After various diagnoses, doctors eventually determined Josh had autism.

"They gave us a box of tissues and they said they didn't know what would happen and by the time he was 15 he'd be in a group home or institution. Then they left the room and let us cry," she said.

Looking over family pictures in their Royal Palm Beach home, Randi and Sandy are astonished at how far they've come.

"Joel has become an amazing young man," she said of her 27-year-old son.

After graduating from college, Joel has become a supervisor at a computer company. 

Josh, 30,  graduated from Duke, earned a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh and is now working in cancer research.

"He's been able to succeed in various areas," she said. 

But when their sons were young, there wasn't much help.

"Oh my gosh, there was no therapy," she said.

They relied on instinct.  They worked on the boys social skills by getting them involved in activities, but it wasn't easy.

"I remember when Josh was little," she said.  "None of the kids would play with him, and it was really tough."

Josh gravitated toward academics, winning many contests.  His younger brother was attracted to music.

"Josh couldn't stand the sound of Joel's voice and Joel used to sing all the time.  It wasn't pretty and we lived in a 1,000-square-foot house at the time so you can image the fighting that took place at that time,"  she said.

While the youngsters have become successful adults, their parents still need to help them; reminding them about taking medicine and other daily necessities. They fear what might happen when they've passed on.

"I worry every day about my kids when I'm not here one day. I'm just very concerned about it," she said.