The fourth part of our Autism Awareness Series features Markus Rios and Ethan Ray Pacheco, both 3-years-old.
Markus’ parents Jolene Rios and Stephen Rios, Ethan’s mother, Misty Rae Ramos and grandmother Norma Ramos all shared the importance of raising autism awareness.
Misty found out Ethan was autistic when he was 2.
Norma said of her daughter Misty, “She is trying her best to be at work and learn more for him, because the reactions that we get at certain times are ugly. It is scary. A lot of people don’t understand it. Some kids get angry at Ethan because he is non-verbal, he doesn’t talk. They want to shake him.” Norma said Ethan understands what they tell him, but most of the time he just shies away, especially when he does not know somebody. It was Ethan’s grandfather Steve Ramos who first noticed Ethan would not look him in the eyes.
“I think we all figured it out at the same time because we were really concentrating on what Steve had said. He would look at first, and then all of a sudden he would just wander,” said Norma.
They went through all the steps and Ethan was officially diagnosed in San Antonio. Ethan’s father passed away when Misty was two months pregnant, which was difficult for Misty. Ethan is close with his Uncle Steven, who Ethan calls, “Da.”
Jolene shared she learned Markus was autistic at his 2-year check-up, when she filled out the questionnaire of what he could and could not do.
“Most of the answers were no. He can’t do that and he can’t do that. He can’t do any of that stuff,” Jolene said.
Markus’ pediatrician said he should be tested. They were fortunate that his pediatrician used to work in a Developmental Pediatrician office, so she knew who to refer the family to for testing.
Jolene said there are extremely long waiting lists for everything.
After the referral, Markus was diagnosed after the first meeting. However, Jolene has heard of others not diagnosed until they have had several meetings.
“Some of these kids need the diagnosis to get disability. They are paying out-of-pocket whether it is private insurance or with Medicaid. I was just blessed that he was diagnosed the first time and that was it,” Jolene said. Testing for autism also includes a hearing test, said Jolene.
If the child does not cooperate, then they need a sedated hearing test.
“Most autistic kids don’t cooperate,” said Stephen.
They also shared those proud moments, such as when Markus sat through a haircut or the time his dentist appointment went well.
“She sent me a picture of him at the dentist and it was amazing. I never expected Markus to sit there at the dentist,” Stephen said. “All those other times he was crying and throwing a fit.”
They expressed concerns over what goes on during the day at school, since their children are unable to come home and discuss it.
“It is scary now that he goes to school and I have no idea what he says, what he does, how he acts in school because he can’t come home and tell us,” Norma said of her grandson. Stephen said you worry about your child being behind and also about them being picked on at school.
“I cry for him all the time because I never thought about a son growing up, dealing with this. Everyday is something new for him,” Stephen said.
“Even though he has learned it, you have to teach him again because he will forget. It is constant,” Norma said.
More about Ethan and Markus from their families will be featured in next week’s Pleasanton Express.