When the Diagnosis Was Autism: Future Horizon’s Outreach to Affected Families

August 2005
by Jenny McCune

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R. Wayne Gilpin gave hope to
parents of autistic children, and they gave him profits. His Future Horizons
Inc., founded in 1996, now publishes 60 books and videos a year on autism and
Asperger’s syndrome, and it puts on 30 conferences on those subjects annually
in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. It expects around $6
million in revenues for 2005.

Gilpin’s story shows the power of
passion. Talking of his son’s diagnosis of autism back in the early 1990s,
Gilpin recalls: “Professionals looked me dead in the eye and told me to get
ready for the fact that Alex would not be able to learn to read and write and
would never have friends.”

While Gilpin knew that there was
no cure for autism, his experiences with Alex revealed that there’s a lot of
humor associated with communication disconnects between a family and an
autistic son or daughter, and he decided to show families that the diagnosis
was not a life sentence of unhappiness.

Not What the Pros Were

So five years after Alex was diagnosed,
Gilpin wrote Laughing
and Loving with Autism. In that book, he tells story after story
about what it’s like to live with someone with autism. For example, take the
time when Alex was nine years old and Gilpin laid down the law about not
leaving his clothes strewn all over the hous

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