COLUMBIA FALLS — A mother in Columbia Falls is looking to educate others and break autism stereotypes by using some unique creations.
Christine Wiley's love for her son -- and grandchild -- inspired her to paint rocks in hopes of bringing awareness for those with autism.
"I didn't realize that it was that serious, I just thought he was delayed a little bit, until he started Head Start and they kind of pointed it out to me and got me started with the resources I needed,” Christine recalled. And sure enough, they diagnosed him with autism."
Christine says that as a child, her son Dylan was prone to acting out -- and many didn't understand why.
"Looking in, they don't really understand what Autism really is. They just assume that your child is out of control and being a brat and that you need to do something about it.”
So, Wiley started a fun, creative way educating others about autism. She hand paints rocks, leaving a resource for people on the back to learn more.
"These rocks, [we] go out and we hide them around the valley. We've hid them in Whitefish, Kalispell, Columbia Falls,” Christine told MTN News. “And when they're found [it], if you look on the backside of the rock it, gives a description of the website. They go to the Autism Rockz. And when you get there, it explains about Autism and the misunderstandings."
"It's characterized by deficits in skills, communication skills and restricted interests or stereotypical behavior, which is sort of unusual movements or vocalizations,” explained Karlyn Gibbs, director of the Autism Treatment Program at the Child Development Center in Kalispell.
Christine's son Dylan says that he really appreciates everything his mother is doing to break the stereotypes, "she's making awareness for people like me and giving them a chance in the world. Everyone that has autism is looked at differently and it's awful."
Christine says that in the first few months Autism Rockz has been very successful and plans on continuing the project. You can get learn more information by visiting Autism Rockz on Facebook.