Medford Family Thankful for School's Autism AwarenessSubmitted: 04/10/2013
Story By Hayley Tenpas

MEDFORD - In April millions of Americans recognize Autism Awareness month.

In the Northwoods one family is speaking out for their son Jack, and how their school district is making a difference.

"You know I don't know what I'd do if he didn't have the structure of school," said Cathy Mayrer.

Mayrer's son Jack has been in the Medford Schools since age three.

"Jack was diagnosed at 3 years, 5 months old with autism," said Mayrer.

Before his autism diagnosis, Mayrer says things were difficult.

"Very isolated. Because your friends are all, well, we couldn't go anywhere.
Not with him, because he'd throw his meltdowns, have his tantrums and I didn't know what was wrong with him," said Mayrer.

Jack's autism is "moderately severe" on the autism spectrum.

But things are a lot different now than when Jack was first diagnosed, and part of that is from the help of the Medford Area School District.

"The school itself has just been, this part of his life that I can't even describe, I haven't moved anywhere else because of it. Because they've done the best that I can see locally for my son," said Mayrer.

At Medford Area Middle School, teacher Ryan Brown has been working with Jack for three years.

"Every day is different. You know one day it might be great, but then all of the sudden something is bothering them, or upsetting them. And so each and every day is different, but we just kinda adjust to them," said Brown.
The great days are what Cathy says makes a difference.

"When you see him make little gains in things, it's such a rewarding thing to watch him, and see him make these gains that you never thought he could do."

"I just, I mean personally, I feel really blessed to be able to have these guys. Because Jack and the other students, they're so much fun to be around. I've probably learned more from them, than they've learned from me," said Brown.

Autism is an individual experience, but Cathy hopes theirs can help other families.

"As long as I keep speaking for Jack, and trying to do the best thing for him on his behalf, it might not always be the right thing or the most finesse, but I'm trying to do the best I can for Jack, and that's what I aim to do"

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