The North Dakota Autism Center, Inc. was founded because of one little boy. In 2002, the Smith family was blessed with an amazing little boy named, Tyler. Gene and Sandy Smith were excited to be adding to the family. Tyler was joining the troop with 2 older sisters, Darcy (Kasprowicz) and Sarah (Matthews). They all could not wait to spoil him. Excited about the opportunity attend and cheer him on at football games, baseball games, and take him hunting! He was such a wonderful addition to the family.
In 2003, Tyler got sick. He would barely drink his bottles or eat anything. Sandy took him to the doctor and was told to continue pushing fluids. He had a virus that lasted for 12 days. Finally, he started to perk up, but what came next would change the lives of this family forever.
Tyler forgot how to walk and talk. He would not respond to his name or any other direction. He also stopped looking at people. Sandy feared that Tyler had lost his hearing. After a few appointments with the audiologist, it was determined that he could hear and was recommended to Speech therapy.
During this time, Sandy had also started to do her research about what was going on with Tyler. She came across many articles that seemed similar to the things Tyler was doing. Things such as obsessively stacking or lining up items, fixation of objects, sensory issues, no longer using words, repetitive behaviors and not meeting age appropriate milestones. Sandy brought up her findings to Tyler’s pediatrician. At the time, the doctor dismissed Sandy’s concerns.
Tyler continued with Speech therapy. At the end of a session, the therapist told Sandy she should get Tyler evaluated at the Developmental Clinic. Sandy scheduled an appointment right away.
In February 2004, Tyler was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), which was on the Autism Spectrum.