Local family with very special son raises Autism awareness

By: Brittany Paris

Meet Harris Niazi. He's a 23-year-old who loves to swing and swim.

“He's just different. He's very smart and he has a beautiful personality,” Najiba Niazi, Harris's mother, said.

Harris is Autistic. He was diagnosed when he was just a toddler.

“He's our fourth kid. And you're always wondering what was going on and how come he wasn't developmentally up to par with the older siblings,” Akhter Niazi, Harris's father, said.

Najiba says Harris faces daily challenges with communication, sleeping and seizures. But he's also happy, sweet and has a lot of love to give.

Akhter is a pediatrician who now specializes in kids with Autism. He says in the U.S., Autism affects 1 in every 88 children.

“I had to go back and reinvent the mission that I had to help and know what I can do for these kids,” he said.

Raising awareness for Autism comes at the same time lawmakers advance a bill to help some families by improving coverage.

It includes rehabilitative services and allows up to 25 hours per week of covered therapy until the person turns 21.

“It's really needed. The issue is that these kids are not going anywhere. They are going to be in society and the more help they get and early intervention education programs, the better suited they will be,” Akhter said.

Najiba says it's good to see there is so much support out there. She says she's never thought of Harris any differently than her other children.

“With one exception, that Harris is not arguing with me all the time,” she said.

“Everybody says he's autistic. We think he's perfect,” Akhter said.

To kick off Autism Awareness Month, there is a benefit this Saturday, April 12th, at the Lincoln Racquet Club. It starts at 8:30. There will be breakfast, cardio tennis and a silent auction.

A $20 donation is asked and will go toward local families who have children with Autism.