When Kimberley Brown-Muthra discovered her son was autistic, she feared for the worst. However, the mother of 5-year-old Kareem was soon to discover she would have a gifted child on her hands. Each individual with autism is unique. A brain disorder in which communication with others is difficult, autism has a range of symptoms from high to low. Last year July, Kimberley visited the offices of developmental paediatrician Dr. Andrea Garbutt where, after a two-hour assessment, discovered Kareem was high functioning autistic. High-functioning autism refers to autistic people who are higher functioning than others and often possess exceptional visual, music and academic skills. She said, “I cried at the doctor’s office that day when we found out. I thought this was something that I gave to him but really no one knows the cause of autism and after the assessment, Dr. Garbutt believes Kareem is actually Einstein brilliant.” Kareem attends a non-special needs prep school and outside of that, he participates in occupational therapy sessions to assist his motor skills and behavioural development. While Kareem is the pride and joy of his family, Brown-Muthra attests that it can be difficult. She explains, “The meltdowns are the worse, sometimes when he doesn’t get what he wants he doesn’t take it well and it takes a while to calm him down. But you have to know how to deal with special needs children and it requires a lot of patience. You have to remember that getting frustrated does not help the situation.” Other challenges include having her son interact with or being in the care of persons who are not knowledgeable about autism and dealing with Kareem’s specific dietary habits. “He is very particular about what he eats. He also doesn’t like to sleep which is common to autistic children. He is never tired and sometimes I can’t even keep up with him!” she exclaimed. Despite this, Brown-Muthra keeps a positive outlook as she believes her son will be a high achiever like other famous high functioning autists - entrepreneur Bill Gates and football superstar Lionel Messi. “My son is so brilliant. He’s in grade 1 and doing grade 2 math and soon he’ll be moving up to grade 3. I just hope he can get in the zone to do something great with his life,” she said. Until that day, the Credit and Collections Analyst at Digicel dedicates her time to special needs awareness. Kimberley is a member of the Jamaica Autism Support Association and supporter of the Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk, which takes place on Saturday, October 11th. She added, “due to a back injury I won’t be able to run or walk in the 5K this year but I am volunteering to work on the day and encouraging people to sign up. I will be signing up my family and friends to walk for me.” Proceeds of the Digicel Foundation 5K Run/Walk will go towards scholarships at 10 Special Needs institutions across Jamaica. Persons can sign up through the Google Play App or www.runningeventsja.com.