Steve and Debbie Caswell knew something was different about their daughter. As they watched their baby grow they realized she was becoming withdrawn and communicating less and less. At 3 years old, Katie Caswell was diagnosed with autism.
“I had heard the word (autism),” Steve said, but he really didn’t know anything about the developmental disorder.
Katie’s parents and grandmother tried to learn as much about autism as they could. As soon as she heard of the diagnosis, her grandma Kate Thomas ran to the library to study the disorder. Since then, Kate has written several books about being the grandparent of an autistic child.
As Katie grew, she attended special education classes and autism camps. “We had a therapist for a long time, 10 years,” Debbie said.
“We had a tough year on the farm one year and couldn’t really afford to have her come out anymore. From there, we decided to take care of all of the at-home care ourselves,” Steve said.
Since then her parents have been Katie’s only liaisons to the outside world. It is difficult for others to understand what Katie is trying to convey. Like many autistic people, Katie often uses one word answers or parrots, confusing people who do not interact with her frequently. Katie also can become easily overstimulated because she is sensitive to smells, sounds and textures. These sensitivities often make the world a suprising and frightening place for Katie. Her home and her parents are truly her safe place.
In 2012, Katie will graduate from Central Hardin High School in Cecilia. Her mother has high hopes for her future.