Autism on Guam, Part 5 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Autism on Guam, Part 5

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Blair Riate and his wife Asuncion are blessed with 3 handsome boys. Simon is 10, Shawn is 8, and Spencer is 6. All three are autistic.  "With our first child, I believe he was about 2 years old," recalled Blair. "The testing that was being offered to the public at Wettengel. My sister was like why don't you bring your son there, just to see how he is doing?"

Because Simon had been diagnosed with autism, they couple had their other two boys tested after they were born. It was hard to accept that Shawn and Spencer were autistic as well.  The mother said, "But we kind of looked at each other and was- alright, what are we going to do next? We learn new things and how to adapt...actually everyday is just a different story for them, so you just have to do everything as a routine. And from there try to learn from there ability what do they like or what they don't like, because they are sensitive to certain things, too."

All three boys, who attend Maria Ulloa Elementary School in Dededo, require daily guidance as they are diagnosed as being high functioning.  "I know a lot of people have different meanings for that, and when you give them the exact meaning of autism. It's still kind of hard to exactly know what it is. For the past 10 years, I've handled the 3, and it's basically it's just the love you gotta provide for the kids," she said.

While Simon and Shawn are able to verbally communicate, the youngest - Spencer, still has difficulty expressing his wants and needs.  While each day has its ups and downs, the Riate family has managed to overcome the challenges they face and count their trio of blessings.  Said Blair, "For anyone who doesn't understand this and they encounter kids or anybody that has a special need, I hope they don't look at them in any different way because they're not, they're just special. A lot of people can learn from them, instead of us teaching them."

To learn more about autism or make a donation to the local organization Autism Community Together, KUAM is hosting the 2nd Annual Calvo's Insurance Trick or Treat 5k Family Run/Walk this Saturday.  Show time is 5am at Skinner Plaza.  Advanced registration is only $6 per person or $20 for a family of four.  Race day registration is $10 per person.

You can register at KUAM in Harmon, Hornet Sporting Goods, or Shell Gas Station in East Hagatna, Dededo and Mangilao locations or Calvo's Insurance in Dededo and Hagatna locations.

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