YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Utah family shares their experience with three boys who have autism

Apr 25, 2024, 5:47 PM | Updated: 6:42 pm

LEHI – April is Autism Acceptance Month, a chance to raise awareness and celebrate differences. One Utah family has learned that while life on the spectrum is difficult, it can also be beautiful.

Brothers, 7-year-old Liam, 5-year-old Ollie, and 3-year-old Milo, have different personalities and share a strong bond.

“They have to put in the work to communicate; to be able to socialize,” their mom, Marjorie Grover, said. “It’s not something that they just intuitively get like other kids do.”

Grover started noticing autistic signs in three of her five kids when they were very young.

“Around 18 months, Liam was delayed in his speech. He was very, very shy to the point that he wouldn’t talk to anyone,” she said. “Ollie came along and he was overtly physical and hyposensitive to everything. With Milo, emotional regulation was a big challenge. He was also really sensitive to sounds and lights.”

(From left to right) 7-year-old Liam, 5-year-old Ollie, and 3-year-old Milo, sitting on a bench together.

(From left to right) 7-year-old Liam, 5-year-old Ollie, and 3-year-old Milo, sitting on a bench together. (Courtesy: The Grover Family)

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects one in 36 children and is nearly four times more common in boys than girls.

“It impacts the child’s ability to communicate and interact in social situations,” said Tara Long, RN, MSN, a pediatric nurse and director of care management at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “It can be very stressful for families, especially as they are seeing these things kind of pop up at a very young age.”

Long said early intervention is key to treating autism.

“The sooner the child can start in speech therapy or occupational therapy, the more successful that child is,” she said.

The symptoms and their intensity can vary from child to child. For girls, signs of autism tend to be more subtle.

“There’s a saying that goes around in the autism world, which is when you’ve met one person with autism, that means you’ve met one person with autism,” Grover said. “They’re all so different.”

Through trial and error, Grover is finding what works for each of her sons.

“We have to put in the work to help them be successful and be able to live in this world that is not created for people with autism,” she said.

The three boys walking down a sidewalk together, holding hands.

The three boys walking down a sidewalk together, holding hands. (Courtesy: The Grover Family)

The family is learning that there’s beauty in being different, and there’s nothing they can’t do.

“They have skills and abilities that other people don’t have,” Grover said. “They’re needed in this world. And I know that they’re going to be okay.”

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services has an Early Intervention Program, which provides free in-home therapies. Local school districts also provide developmental support.

Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has a new space for patients with developmental disabilities. Their sensory room, which was made possible by generous donors, gives kids opportunities to play in a quiet, calm, comfortable environment away from the stress of the hospital.

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Utah family shares their experience with three boys who have autism