Not everyone who grows up with autism becomes a shut-in. We found a young man who lives and works in Lennox. His parents want other parents with autistic children to know there is hope for a good outcome. They say you just can't ever give up on your child.
Chris Berg is autistic, but that does not define him. This 26 year old is beating the odds by becoming a successful working and independent autistic adult, even though he is a statistic. One out of 150 children in this country has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chris has a Masters Degree in Accounting from U.S.D. and for the last two years has been an Internal Bank Auditor in Lennox.
Chris says, "I think a good part of it is divine intervention and part of it was my parents working with me at an early age so I think a lot of it is with the parents and your environment."
Working at the Valley Exchange Bank in Lennox has been a perfect fit for Chris. He gets to work with numbers which he loves and the women here joke that he's lucky to be surrounded by 16 "moms" which his real mom, Laurie Berg, loves.
His mom says, "Oh yes, it's great. They look out for him and take care of him and he does the same for them. "
It wasn't always easy for Chris or his parents. Chris was first diagnosed as mildly retarded at the University of Iowa. Back in the mid to late 80's that where most everyone took their children to be tested. Once they got the correct diagnosis they were told to not expect much. Well, that advice didn't do much for them.
Gerry Berg, Chris's Dad, says, "We always tried to make sure if we went somewhere we'd always take him along and try to keep him in public so he would learn to cope with that. Most kids with autism freak out in public."
Chris says he still struggles with making eye contact, which psychologists say is a very normal trait, but he no longer finds comfort in his own little world like he used too when he was young.
Gerry says, "We are very proud of Chris. He's come a long way from when he was little. People would tell you, at best, he'll live in a group home. You don't want to take that. You always think your kids can do better than what's expected. And he has. He did a lot better than they thought he'd do."
I think we can all bank on continued success for his future.
Laurie and Gerry Berg say the key for them was early intervention and working with Chris early on. They also say it's very important not to take attention away from the other children in the family.