Mom's advice for raising child on autism spectrum: rely on family, friends

PARKLAND, Fla - Sam Gelfand looks like a natural musician as he plays the drums in his Parkland home.

But getting the 16-year-old to this point has been a journey that's been sometimes difficult to navigate.  Just ask his mother, Allison Craigie, what it's like to raise a child on the autism spectrum

"Interesting, challenging, exciting all of those sometimes on one day, frustrating," she said.

Allison wrote about it in Chicken Soup For The Soul: Raising Kids On The Spectrum.

"I knew there was something different when Sam was just days old. Everyone kept saying you're a nervous mom and a new mom, but I always knew there was something," she said.

From there the bewildering process began.

"We received so many different diagnosis on Sam and so many differeing opinion and perspectives," she said.

There were times Allison didn't understand what was happening, and didn't know what to do.

"My son was reading when he was three. We didn't know that he was knocking bookcases  over because he was frustrated. He had read all the books already."

With therapy,  for both social and physical skills, Sam progressed to a higher-functioning level.

"A lot of what we did was geared to making him appear more typical and be more typical," she said.

But there were plenty of regressions, like the time he didn't want to come out of his dark room.

"This lasted a very long time and he didn't want to socialize, and that was one of the things we worked so hard at with him. It was very very difficult," she said.

She says he now comes out of his regressions much quicker and is much more social.

With a mother's perspective she has advice for other parents facing the same challenges.

"It required my friends pitching it at times, it required my family pitching in at times. You can't do it by yourself."

Next step for Sam,  he's looking at going to college next year.

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