Autism support group granted chapter status

Rhonda Stewart of Bremerton has two sons who are leading two very different lives. Her eldest son, who is 11 years old, doesn’t like to be around crowds and doesn’t make personal connections with children his own age. Her 7-year-old does just fine with crowds and doesn’t understand why his older brother doesn’t like to play like other brothers do.

Stewart understands why — her eldest son was diagnosed with autism before he was 4. Stewart is the president of Kitsap County’s own autism support group that was recently granted chapter status by the Autism Society of Washington State and operates under the name Autism Society of Kitsap County.

So far, about 16 members — mostly parents — have banded together to lean on each other with issues that parents of “normally developing” children don’t understand.

According to the ASWS Web site, autism affects the thought processes and social interaction. Children who have autism often have physical behaviors that other children may think are odd, including hand flapping, rocking or jumping around. Some children with autism may intentionally hurt themselves by head banging or biting.

Stewart’s oldest son attended Olympic View Elementary School in the Bremerton School District before the district closed the school as a cost-saving measure. Now, he attends Kitsap Lake Elementary

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