'It has showed us how to be more compassionate' local family dealing with Autism

With the prevalence of autism, we talked to a local family who has a child with autism.

MARNE, MICH. - Autism is a behavior disorder that affects thousands of children across the country. Autism is now 10 times more common than it was in the 1980s.

10-year-old Samantha Breen was diagnosed with the disorder when she was four.

"There was fear, there was...I was upset as a mom just trying to deal with the emotion of it all," said Jennifer Breen.

But after the initial shock, the family of four buckled down and started learning about Autism. 12-year-old Tyler Breen explains that his sister just views the world differently. 

"She's gonna be your sister; you can't change that. She's always going to have Autism, so try and help her out," said Tyler Breen.

The Breen family did make some adjustments including the decision to home-school. They say research, communication, medical advice and a support group are key. Jen Breen's experience caused her to start the non-profit Autism Family Network which now includes around 300 families in West Michigan.

"We as parents tend to stay home, because we're embarrassed maybe by the behavior. Or we get frustrated by the looks or comments from strangers, and we can feel alone so the autism family network is here to show our support to those families," says Jennifer Breen.

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