STEPHENS — At first it wasn’t obvious to Teresa and Mike Basye that their son, Josh, now 4, had symptoms of autism.
“He would open and close the kitchen cupboards repeatedly and never take anything out, and he would do it for 20 to 30 minutes at a time," Teresa Bayse says.
The Basyes took Josh to the doctor where, at 18 months, he was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, a precursor to autism. At age 3, Josh was officially diagnosed with autism.
Autism is a developmental disability that affects people's ability to communicate, and it is becoming increasingly more prevalent in children. One in 110 children nationwide are diagnosed with autism, and 1 percent of children in Boone County have autism, according to the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
Doctors aren't sure what causes it.
The issue of autism has come up recently in Missouri, especially since the General Assembly has been debating bills that would require insurance coverage for autism treatment.
The Basyes are happy they got an early diagnosis for Josh so they can treat it at a young age. Josh attends Children’s Therapy and Early Education School in Mexico, Mo., a 30-minute drive from their home. There, Josh gets one-on-one attention from an aide who helps him with speech therapy.
Aside from attending school each week, Josh loves to play on the computer and watch credits roll on movies. He often searches YouTube to look for short clips that he plays over and over. He likes the repetitive nature of things, which is a sign of autism.
Having a child with autism hasn’t been easy for the Basye family, which includes his parents and younger sister, but they try to help Josh have a normal childhood.
“I think the hardest thing about having a child who has autism is the idea that you may never see them have an independent life," Teresa Basye says. "They may always have to have a caretaker."
She said her son has given her a new perspective.
“He still has shown he is incredibly intelligent and looks at the world a whole different way. So while he’s looking at the world differently, I kind of have to look at it that way, too."