IOWA — Harper and Gibson are just fifteen months apart in age. At 18 and 17 many of their peers are preparing to graduate from high school. Instead, their parents are looking at group homes, because these teenagers are profoundly affected by autism.

“We used to worry about when they would talk,” says mom Erin, “now we worry about who will take care of them when we’re gone.”

Though Harper and Gibson are both nonverbal they each have distinct personalities and favorite activities. Harper is a whiz at puzzles. Gibson loves music and taking pictures.

The thing that parents want people to know is that living with autism is hard, and they just want their kids to be respected, included and loved.