Parent aims to break down stigmas surrounding Autism

Parent aims to break down stigmas surrounding Autism

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Understanding Autism can be difficult since the range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. 

One parent was taken back after potential new neighbors lacked acceptance.

Mark Tijerina's son, Isaiah enjoys dancing and listening to music on their front porch. But there are safety concerns. 

"About two years ago, there was a story about a police officer arresting a kid for Autism because he thought he was on drugs," Tijerina said. 

Tijerina put out signs to help solicitors and law enforcement understand his son is Autistic. 

"If you ring the doorbell, Isaiah will answer the door," Tijerina said. "If he's just standing there looking at you, you might think somethings wrong." 

Those signs caught the attention of potential new neighbors. 

"Our neighbors had been trying to sell their house but they've only been on the market for about two weeks and they got a seller right off the bat," Tijerina said.

Tijerina said the older couple was looking to move into a retirement home. 

"We went out of town, came back and the sold sign was off," Tijerina said. "Well I guess it fell through." 

Out of curiosity, he asked why they backed out.

"They said it turns out they didn't see your Autism signs out front," Tijerina said. "They didn't know someone with autism lives next door, so they told the realtor they didn't want to live next door to someone with autism." 

Naturally, Tijerina and his family were upset. 

"I thought about it, the more I realize maybe it was not they were hateful people but they were not educated about Autism," Tijerina said. 

Isaiah was diagnosed when he was three. Tijerina said it was not easy to accept right away. 

"The doctor that diagnosed Isaiah told us that he would never show love, never know what love is," Tijerina said. 

That same year, Isaiah was able to tell his father he loved him.

"He shows love, he feels love, and there's no doubt in my mind that he knows exactly what love is," Tijerina said. 

After sharing this story on his personal Facebook, Isaiah has received support from across the community.

"I think if we can learn to accept the difference in these kids and realize that they are human beings, and not just a diagnosis, I think it would go a long way as far as stopping what happened this past week with that couple," Tijerina said. 

Since then, the neighbors have found new buyers who Tijerina believes will be accepting.

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