Television won’t cure cancer. But sometimes can help diagnose Autism.
While filming Season 5 of Parenthood, the NBC show he created, writer Jason Kitims had no idea he was about to not only shake and rattle network television, but a 46 yr. old graphic designer in Dallas Texas as well.
****See Ron and LaunchAbility CEO Kathryn Parsons on CBS***
Ron was watching as he usually did, and was stunned to learn the 9 yr. old boy in the show was diagnosed with Asperger’s. He was on the spectrum—the Autism spectrum. “As I watched the show a light bulb went off. That could be me,” Ron thought. “If that kid in the show could be someone with Autism, maybe I might be too.” He immediately GOOGLED undiagnosed autism and discovered a book called Pretending to be Normal. His first reaction to that title was “WOW! That’s what I do.” In fact, that’s what Ron had been doing his entire life. Even though his parents tell him, to this day, he was such a normal child, Ron knew differently. His anxiety around people, in new surroundings and just the thought of interacting with others caused insufferable angst and often led to stuttering and involuntary withdrawal. His lack of organizational skills and reading aptitude were internally crippling. But he never let on. Not fitting in was his normal.
Ron was tested and finally appropriately diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. “How did you get so far for so long?” the astonished psychologist wondered aloud. He shrugged. To Ron it was like being elbowed in the gut first thing every morning. After a while, that becomes your daily existence.
It’s been two years since the diagnosis, and Ron feels incredibly relieved. It all seems to make more sense now. Why he has trouble interviewing and making eye contact. Why when he would sometimes play the piano or get immersed in an activity he would become completely oblivious to the outer world. And why, if he had to be somewhere at 8, he’d arrive at 6:30 or 7 to settle his mind and assemble his thoughts.
Ron is a LaunchAbility client looking for work as a graphic designer. He has amazing skills. A solid portfolio. And calling him a hard worker is to understate the obvious. He’s overcompensated throughout his life and completed high school and college through sheer determination and intestinal fortitude. He overcame his nameless disability with his own abilities. He attributes his diagnosis with helping save his marriage and be more himself with his three daughters. All that awareness has taught him not to beat himself up so much.
Ron sometimes wishes he’d been diagnosed as a child like on the show, instead of decades later. “Maybe it would have been different for me” he said. Looking back, it’s impossible to know what his yesterday might have looked like. What we can say for sure is that LaunchAbility will be there to help Ron’s today and tomorrow shine.