Autism's Secret: The Kids Grow Up

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2009 7:50 PM CDT
The families of low-functioning autistic children are faced with a life-long burden, Karl Taro Greenfeld writes in Time.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Autistic children do something that most medical research on the subject rarely addresses: They grow up, Karl Taro Greenfeld writes in Time. The brother of autistic, 42-year-old Noah, Greenfeld recounts the struggles of shuffling a low-functioning autistic between state facilities, visiting him, worrying about him, and watching him degenerate into self-inflicted violence as doctors filled him with a drug cocktail.

The author of a book about Noah, Boy Alone: A Brother's Memoir, Greenfeld caught a "small break" when he landed Noah in an assisted living home in Los Angeles with a caregiver. Weaned off half his drugs, Noah now enjoys long walks and rarely attacks himself. But like most autistics who need intensive support, Noah suffers terrible mood swings. "I wish I could say, Yes, definitely, I will be there" for him, Greenfeld writes. "But honestly I don't know."