Asperger's Syndrome is the highest functional form of autism. Many people who have it will do just fine in life. Andrew Hain is a great example.
Andrew Hain is a successful high school student, who even lectures his classmates on occasion. He also works in the library. He's a hard working, happy 18-year-old.
But when Andrew was young, communication and behavior problems made his parents take him to a specialist. The diagnosis was Asperger's Syndrome, the highest functioning form of autism.
"It was tough," says his father, Phillip Hain. "As a parent, you have expectations for your child. You get the diagnosis that alters that, but you have to figure out what's going to happen and what his future is going to be like."
Back then, little was known about how to treat autism. But the Hains persevered, choosing speech and occupational therapists and a special therapist to stay with him when he first started school.
"My first year in a regular school was tough," says Andrew Hain. "I had a lot of trouble in a regular classroom, but then the next few years I've done perfectly."
His fellow students and teachers agree.
"He fits right in," says teacher Diana Jaynes. "He participates fully and I think the entire class enjoys his presence."
"He's very smart, very intelligent," says classmate Natalie Fazeli. " He always makes us laugh."
While Andrew may have flourished because he had a milder form of autism than some others and because of all the support he got, his parents feel the triumphs are his own.
"He's really an amazing kid in so many ways," says his mother, Susan Hain. "He's endearing to people which has really helped him. He's an inspiration to us because he's overcome things that he didn't even know he needed to overcome. He is still who he is, and that's the inspiration for us."
Andrew, who will graduate high school in just a few months, says what he's had to learn should be a lesson for us all.
"We all have our own different personalities," says Andrew. "We should not make fun of anyone else. Just be yourself and everything will work out fine."