Living with Autism | VideoJuli McDonald | 8/12/2011
Cristy Just is a busy woman. She`s a wife, mother of two, and works at Cumulus Radio. But Just`s most important role is a new one: being an advocate for her son Briley, who was recently diagnosed with autism.
"When it comes down to it, you just kind of walk away feeling the weight is very heavy," said Just. "As a parent myself, I felt like I just wanted to crawl underneath a rock and not come back out. Basically you just kind of feel alone."
Cristy and her husband always wondered if something else was wrong when Briley`s teachers would complain of his laziness. Now that they have his diagnosis, the Justs worry his needs aren`t being met.
Just said: "As he was progressing year by year through the grades, his grade level still stayed at third grade, but he continued to get passed on. Even though he`s going into the eighth grade, he`s only still at a third grade level.
Just admits she feels lost with the new diagnosis, but she does find comfort in the fact she`s not alone.
"With the North Dakota Autism Connection, I think if we all kind of team up together and one voice connects to another voice and eventually it turns into a hundred, into a thousand. Eventually North Dakota will be with the other states that have what autism should be," she said.
Right now, the Justs are continuing to look for services and keep their son on track in his routine. It`s a daily struggle. But the most important thing: Briley is happy. Cristy says her son was born with a smile on his face and that hasn`t changed.
The fourth annual Autism Walk will take place tomorrow from 9 a.m. until noon at Horizon Middle School in Bismarck. Cristy encourages people to come learn more about a condition that affects so many families.