Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman: Our Life With an Autistic Child

The meaning of life's adversities may sometimes be found in them. Shawn Stockman, a member of the Grammy-winning group Boyz 2 Men, and his wife Sharhonda eventually discovered that one of their greatest challenges had turned out to be their greatest opportunity.

As fate would have it, not long after the birth of their twin boys in 2003, the couple discovered that one of their kids, Micah, was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. It is never easy for a parent to hear that their kid is sick. A parent's feelings of uncertainty, grief, and guilt are intensified. Shawn Stockman experienced the aforementioned effects as a direct result.

What Is Autism?

Challenges in social skills, repetitive habits, speech, and nonverbal communication are common among those diagnosed with autism, also known as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One in every 44 American children has autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In truth, there are several distinct forms of autism with many different causes. Being a spectrum condition, autism manifests in a wide range of symptoms and severity from person to person. Autistic people's abilities to learn, reason, and solve problems span the spectrum from highly developed to severely impaired. Some persons with ASD may need extensive assistance throughout their days, while others may need much less help and perhaps be able to manage independently.

What Causes Autism?

The actual causes of autism are unknown. Many variables, such as brain maturation and heredity, may be at play.

Unlike typically developing infants, autistic children's brains show abnormally rapid development in infancy and early childhood, particularly during the first three years of life. Why this exponential expansion occurs is a mystery. Yet, this suggests that autistic children's brains are not interacting normally.

Autism seems to have a substantial hereditary component. But, it's improbable that autism can be traced to a single gene. Very likely, several genes interact with one another. Scientists have identified several candidate genes for autism's etiology.

Autism Symptoms

Typically, children with autism display their first symptoms before age 2.

Disparities in children's social and communicative growth are among the earliest indicators that something is wrong in their first year of life. A youngster who is subsequently diagnosed with autism, for instance, may −

  • Not respond to other individuals by smiling

  • Avoid looking at the speaker

  • No hand gestures

Autism spectrum disorder often manifests itself around the toddler years, when kids are supposed to start interacting socially with others via talking and playing. For instance, some of the things autistic kids could do include −

  • Dislike interacting with other kids

  • Paraphrase everything they hear

  • Make a strange sound with the voice

Some kids show a lot of warning symptoms right away, while others don't show any at all. The number of symptoms varies from kid to child based on their age and the severity of the disorder.

When youngsters have trouble comprehending and following directions, establishing friends, and having age-appropriate interests at school, they may be on the autistic spectrum.

Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men Opens Out About His

How did you feel when you realized Micah probably had autism?

Shawn − My better half saw it first. She has seen a deterioration in his progress in communicating with us verbally. He seemed gloomier than usual. He and his twin, Ty, are identical, but the irony is that he was the first to speak and walk. As he turned one, my wife noticed a change in his health and development that concerned her greatly. By age 2, we knew what was wrong with him. My better half insisted on it strongly. And I, being the parent... At first, I refused to accept the reality that there may be a problem since no parent ever wants to imagine their kid is sick.

Now that you're a parent—and a parent of twins with autism—you need to figure out what to do. That seems like it was quite a challenging and perplexing trip.

Shawn − That's about as meaningful as things get when it involves your kid. My wife and I endured a lot of stress and hardship, looking for a treatment or cure to help him. Autism is special since every single instance is different. No two children are exactly alike. There is a wide variety of therapists and behaviorists, as well as supplements and information, available. Choosing the proper treatment for your child is like piecing together a jigsaw since every child is unique. The puzzle piece is Autism Speaks's official emblem. What helps one kid may not help another. You'll have to go through a lengthy and somewhat stressful procedure. On the other side, which makes autism so special, many autistic children are gifted and bright; some even exhibit almost superhuman abilities. Despite their social dysfunction and mental retardation, these people often become experts in various fields and advance to the level of genius in those areas.

It would seem that parents of children with special needs know more about the condition than professionals do.

Shawn − Specialists and scientists may learn a lot from people experiencing the ailments they claim to study. The parents of an autistic child are essential to the specialist's efforts to discover effective treatments for the disorder. The parents who see their kids daily are the best judges of what has helped and hindered their development. The amount of information gathered by parents is staggering. Each account is one of a kind. Each account is unique, but it always has the potential to inspire another account.

Stockman argues that the greatest barrier for many parents is the price of medications for autism spectrum disorders administered during the early stages of the disorder's development. According to Campbell-Martin, Xen's therapy for the last six months has cost about $100,000.


The New York Times reports that in January, specialists from the American Psychiatric Association advocated revisions to the criteria of autism to slow the alarming increase in diagnoses of the illness significantly. Yet, it may be more challenging for people who would no longer qualify for health, educational, and social benefits if the study is implemented.

Due to the high cost of autism therapy, Stockman claims he started a charity called Micah's Voice to help pay for it for one or two families annually.

Updated on: 21-Mar-2023


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