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Even though Shannon Des Roches Rosa's 18-month-old son Leo didn't respond to his name when called, she wasn't worried. There were other early benchmarks, ones his older sister had achieved, that he'd missed too, but she chalked it up to differences between siblings. The year was 2003 and, despite living in the progressive San Francisco Bay area, autism wasn't part of the public lexicon like it is today—nor was it screened for or diagnosed as often.
It wasn't until a family vacation with a friend who was a pediatrician that Shannon and her husband first grew concerned about their son's lack of response and "joint attention" (looking where others are looking). By the end of their trip, the friend advised that they should get him checked out. He didn't say "autism," but told Shannon to talk to their pediatrician about what he'd observed. Leo started receiving early intervention services through their local regional medical center, but it took almost another year and a half for an official diagnosis.
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