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Friday, May 14, 2010

A Success Story

There is no cure for autism, but intervention can make a difference. One story from Wisconsin, about Christopher Xu, son of Yingchun Xu and Sophia Sun:

The couple were living with their older daughters, Iris and Laura, in a Chicago suburb when Christopher was born. Both girls were interactive, affectionate babies, but Christopher paid little attention to his mother, his family or his surroundings. As a toddler he spent most of his time lining up his favorite toys in order or spinning himself in circles — over and over again. When the Xu family went to an air show, his mother pointed to the planes roaring overhead, saying, “Christopher, look at that! Look up!” but the little boy just spun around and around, oblivious to the noise or the world surrounding him.

Now Christopher is 11, and he will soon graduate from the fifth grade at Madison’s John Muir Elementary to head off to middle school. Thanks to the love and persistence of his family, powerful early training, insightful teachers and accepting classmates, his story has changed dramatically, and his remarkable abilities are increasingly apparent.

He is among Wisconsin’s most gifted math students, recently earning top state honors among 1,477 students in the American Mathematics Competition for grades 8 and under. In another math competition, he placed third against high school students. He is his school’s chess champion, and his recreational reading includes such books as “Freakanomics” and “The Mathematical Universe.” He is an excellent musician with perfect pitch who’s composing his own work with the help of a UW music school doctoral candidate. And he’s a top city speller.