Family shares autism experience

We are no more unique than any other parents, Nathan Santos said Saturday at a fundraiser by Alpha Iota Sorority of Tiffin University.

Santos, a professor in TU’s music department, spoke for the fundraiser for Autism Awareness. His son, Ross, 14, was diagnosed at 2 years old with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified.

“This experience has been more enriching than anything. We’ve learned to parent better and adapt to our children and do things a little differently,” Santos said.

Santos and his wife, Kristen, also have a daughter, Ariana, 13.

“I am very appreciative of Ariana, she has been almost a third parent in the house,” Santos said.

Ross, who was non-verbal until age 5, also spoke about his experiences with autism.

“Autism has changed my life for a long time. I don’t know all that much that kids in my grade know, but I am learning better in school to surpass that,” Ross said. “I learn slower than other kids, but I am not much different. I feel unique.”

“Ross is a glorious success case and Ariana is an amazing little woman and I am blessed with my husband,” Kristen said.

Gift baskets were donated from other TU student organizations and raffled off. Autism Society of Northwest Ohio also donated brochures for the evening.

Funds are to go to the National Autism Society and Heartspring.

“What I hope people get out of tonight is more of an understanding than acceptance. Many see autism, but don’t know how it affects a child or who else it affects,” Tonni Stearns, student representative said.