When Connor Samsky was just 2 years old he’d already taught himself to read. His parents, Brett and Louise Samsky, knew that was remarkable. However, along with this extraordinary ability they noticed other signs that Connor wasn’t developing typically. For example, instead of forming his own speech Connor would echo back the things his mother and father said to him. He also would line up his toys and he had trouble keeping eye contact.
“Because he was a child of high intelligence, I realize now that I overlooked some things,” said Louise. “He’s our only child, so I didn’t have a way to compare his behavior to that of other children. And, at the time—about 12 years ago—there wasn’t anywhere close to the amount of autism awareness that there is today.”
Finding support from specialists
Even so, the Samskys took Connor to a few different pediatricians. But they couldn’t find one who would take their concerns seriously. Either due to lack of awareness or discomfort with diagnosing the problem, the practitioners they consulted were unable to provide the Samskys with any help for Connor. It took a call from one of Connor’s preschool teachers to validate what the Samskys knew all along. The teacher explained that the school had some concerns because Connor wouldn’t respond to teachers when they called his name.
“That was a turning point for us. At that point we knew we had to get him in to see a specialist. That’s when I reached out to Marcus Autism Center and made an appointment for him to be evaluated. I’m very grateful to that preschool teacher. That was a hard phone call for her to make, but it changed the direction of Connor’s life,” said Louise.
At the time, a developmental pediatrician at Marcus Autism Center diagnosed Connor with Asperger’s syndrome—a diagnosis that does not exist today. All autism-related diagnoses now fall somewhere on what doctors call the autism spectrum, and people who fall on the spectrum are diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD).