How A Minneapolis Police Officer Raised 2 Sons Diagnosed With Autism

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We are less than 48 hours from Pulling Together.

The event raises money for Fraser — they provide resources for families dealing with autism. We want to take a few minutes and show you just how key those resources are to Metro families.

Officer Heather Young spent Wednesday morning pushing her sons on the Lake Calhoun playground. A few years ago, she says her active oldest son would have acted a lot differently.

“He would have just been sitting in the sand, playing by himself,” she said.

Sean was diagnosed with autism at age 3.

“He wasn’t talking, he wasn’t doing the things he should have been doing,” Officer Young said. “Just preferred to be alone, isolated and such.”

After she worked through denial, she started getting help. And then, another hurdle — Sean’s brother Donovan, who is 21 months younger, was diagnosed, too.

“Raising any child is difficult,” Officer Young said. “You have to go through the potty training, you have to go through the transition from switching to a crib to a toddler bed — and now you factor in having two kids with special needs and it magnifies it 100 percent.”

Her saving grace was finding a place that offers autism services.

“With St. David’s, with Fraser — these places that offer these services, they work with them on appropriate play and getting along with others and using their words,” Officer Young said.

So when she found out Pulling Together benefits autism services, she got excited.

“Being able to raise this money and keep these services alive is what will help my children be successful as they grow,” she said.

Seeing them play on and laugh with a playground full of strangers shows they are on their way.

“Now they run around and are happy,” Officer Young said. “Just seen such a huge change because of early intervention and having these services that are out there to help them.”

Heather’s co-workers at Minneapolis Police Department will be pulling against St. Paul Police officers. You can support either of those teams and most importantly, the Fraser Center for autism resources here.

More from Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
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