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Communicating on the Autistic Spectrum

Posted by Andrew Harrison | July 04, 2012 / 09:27pm | Local News, Faith & Family, Education
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) - Last week, we payed a visit to Camp Jigsaw at Mississippi State University.
The camp helps autistic boys between the ages of 12 and 19 practice social skills that will serve them well in life, but it also raises awareness of a condition that is much more common than you might think.

We all have trouble communicating every once in awhile.
For people on the autistic spectrum, it can be especially challenging.
It's something that campers and counselors at the recently concluded Camp Jigsaw in Starkville know all too well.
Will McLaughlin says, " It can be frustrating, realizing you might relapse back to the same bad habits you really were hoping not to go back to.
Camp Coordinator Dr. Sandy Devlin adds, " Eye contact, appropriate body language and ending a conversation are some of the beginning skills that we learn."
Getting to know others on the spectrum can also help.
Camp Jigsaw does that.
Alex Orsak explains, " They might have their own special interest, but they have autism in common, so they think alike in certain ways and because of that it's a lot easier for them to interact socially with each other."
With autism on the rise more than 300 percent over the past ten years in Mississippi, its something society can not ignore.
We'd miss out on the contributions of too many wonderful people.
It takes work to keep the lines of communication open, but its worth it.
Dr. Devlin explains, " We have students here that are in junior high, some in high school, and some in college, and they are becoming successful members of our community, but it takes practice and it has to start somewhere, so Camp Jigsaw is what we are trying to do."
Will McLaughlin looks into the future and says, " Ten years from now, I see myself with a good job, somewhere in the business field, specifically in accounting or finance, and I see myself trying to help others that have autistic spectrum disorders, trying to improve their social skills and other problems that they have."
P. J. Mame, a typically developing child, who volunteers at Camp Jigsaw offers this advice, " When it comes to autism, people should remember that every single type of autism is different, but you should still treat them with the respect that other people deserve."
That way we all win, and we just might learn something.

Another Camp Jigsaw is planned for next Summer.
You can call Dr. Sandy Devlin (662) 341-3322 to find out more.
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