Understanding autism spectrum diagnosis key to helping Shawn Yancy's son Tyson succeed

- Shawn Yancy is the anchor of our 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news at FOX 5. She's also a mom to three sons - her middle son being on the autism spectrum.

FOX 5’s Allison Seymour sat down with Shawn to talk about her pride and joy - Tyson.


During the process of trying to figure out what was going on with Tyson there were people - who before the official diagnosis - mentioned her son might have autism, Shawn told Allison. At that early stage, she says, she was unsure about what the disability really was.

Her first thoughts and assumptions were that autism involved non-verbal children who exhibited behaviors like rocking or finger waving. "Tyson didn't have any of those symptoms," Shawn said. "So when someone mentioned it I was like – 'No way. There's no way my child has autism.'"

About a year went by, Shawn said, before a pedestrian mentioned Asperger’s Syndrome. "I went home and sat down with the computer Googling it and I screamed – 'Honey, I know what Tyson has, I know what it is!'"

Children with Asperger's are typically higher functioning but who have problems socializing effectively. Following an official diagnosis at Children's Hospital, Shawn said, there was a certain amount of relief. “We knew how to get him treatment and what we were supposed to do instead of just trying to figure out what's going on with our kid.”

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"They're just like every other kid," Shawn said about children on the spectrum. "They can do things that you and I can't do." Patience helps, she says, and instead of lumping all children on the autism spectrum together, take the time to figure out who your son or daughter is by understanding and appreciating them.


Shawn said that when she and her husband felt their son was old enough, they spoke with him about having Asperger’s Syndrome. "It makes your brain think a little bit differently,” she told him, "and your brain is brilliant." "What we want you to know is that it's not a disability it's a gift - because your brain can do things that most of us can't even imagine."

Shawn said that they wanted Tyson to know that if he was at school and was confused because something didn't seem quite right or didn’t seem as easy for him - now he would understand why.

"And…it was kind of a relief for him, too."

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