‘He’d look at me like he didn’t even know me’: Brooklyn family deals with ups and downs of having autistic child

Amy Alabaster learned her son Caleb had autism when he was 17 months old.
Caleb, now five, is not able to communicate with speech.
“He’d look at me like he didn’t even know me or care that I was home,” Alabaster says. “Which is crushing.”
Alabaster says early intervention therapy has been key in Caleb’s programs, but tells parents of autistic children that the system does not make it easy. “It’s pretty disgraceful that we, as a society, can afford a new bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge, but we can’t afford to give the appropriate care to disabled individuals,” Alabaster says.
Alabaster’s husband, Lawrence, is an advocate for Autism Speaks and fights for funding at a federal level to help people like his son.
He says the government and private funding provide less than 1% of the cost of caring for people with autism.
He says Autism Speaks was able to raise $12.6 billion for an increase in funding for things like home services.
Caleb has regressed because of the pandemic as virtual learning doesn’t suit him.
However, the bond he has with parents is growing stronger.
“Yes, it comes with challenges, but then it also comes with gifts,” Lawrence says. “Because I now see how he experiences the world through his own lens.”