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40 Force: Unlocking Autism – Lydia’s Story


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Lydia Alicea never realized that something might be amiss with her son Nathan. It wasn’t until he went to day care that she realized something may not be right.

“He wasn’t making eye contact, wasn’t interacting with other kids and that’s when we had concerns,” Alicea explained.

Lydia had never heard of autism. She describes feeling lost after his diagnosis, but she did everything she could for her son.

“There were many years of therapy, trips to Children’s Hospital Boston and I had to just educate myself and my family on how to deal with him,” she added.

Today, Nathan is 20 years old, has a job, and a black belt.

“I like to work at Big Y, like to play some video games and have some fun, and watch the Springfield Falcons,” Nathan said.

And of course his favorite part of those hockey games?

“Fighting! Fighting yea!”

Looking back, Lydia says all the struggles she went through after Nathan’s diagnosis were worth it to see all of his accomplishments today. And she has some advice for all the parents who have children with autism as well.

“I think lots of patience, understanding, and a lot of love those are the three keys that got me where I am today. Because every child is different.”


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