We met 9-year-old Deane Thomas on a wintry Spring day.
“I want to go play in it, and eat it,” Deane said. His enthusiasm about the unseasonable, snowy weather is nothing compared to his love for games.
“Lego Jurasic World,” Deane said. He also loves Lego Chess. Parents Annie and Chris said Deane was a typical toddler until about 18 months.
“We noticed very suddenly that he lost some language skills and some social skills,” Annie said. “He liked to line everything up, and get down on the floor and look at things sideways. These things that were just a little unusual.” Eventually, they took Deane to a specialist.
“That’s when he was diagnosed with Autism,” Annie said. Soon after, they started early intervention services.
“We were able to start ABA, Applied Behavior Analysis, at the Quad City Autism Center. That was life-changing for us,” Annie said. Therapy helps address behavioral and language issues.
“He was very physical and aggressive towards us because he couldn’t communicate,” Annie said. Recently, Chris saw Deane’s progress after an accidental scratch during a playful wrestling match.
“Part of his therapy is working on his empathy skills. He was visibly upset, crying. He had a rag trying to stop the blood. Honestly, it was beautiful. Even though it did hurt, it was a beautiful thing to see,” Chris said. The Thomas family on a mission to evolve Autism awareness into Autism acceptance.
“He’s not misbehaving in public on purpose. He’s having his own set of issues and challenges to deal with,” Chris said.
“It’s not about wanting him to be somebody else, or wanting people to feel badly that he has different abilities or challenges. It’s about accepting that he’s exactly who he is supposed to be,” Annie said.
There is no known single cause of Autism. The Thomas family credits the Quad City Autism Center for being instrumental in Deane’s progress. Local 4 News is a sponsor of the upcoming Gonzo’s Cinco De Mayo 5k benefiting the Quad City Autism Center.