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Colonie family to appear in autism documentary

A Colonie resident has been chosen in a national search as a subject for a documentary that will highlight families overcoming the obstacle of raising a child with autism.

Trish Washburn has been selected, along with 19 other families from different socioeconomic, religious and cultural backgrounds, to showcase how they deal with the challenges of having a child with autism in the documentary The United States of Autism: The Film.

Washburn's family was one of the first picked by the film's Executive Producer and Director Richard Everts. Washburn has two children who will be featured: Buddy, a 9-year-old who is on the autism spectrum, and Cecelia Jane " also known as C.J. " a 7-year-old who Washburn believes is hard to diagnose because she is both highly functional and a female.

"One in four children diagnosed with autism are usually boys," said Washburn. "I believe that's why she doesn't have a clear diagnosis."

The autism spectrum covers several developmental abnormalities, and Buddy falls in between Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome, according to Washburn.

Some of the signs that were clear to Washburn that C.J. falls on the autism spectrum was when she would walk on her toes, tantrum easily and organize her stuffed animals by color. Having Buddy, she said, made her become more aware of the signs.

"It needs to have more of a focus," she said of the lack of awareness of autism in females. "Girls present differently than boys do."

Washburn has been an activist in the Capital District to raise awareness of autism and advocating for the need to expose children with a developmental disability to the same activities as any other child.

She was appointed by Gov. David A. Paterson as a consumer member of the state's Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, a position she said she was "psyched" to get. She also lobbied members of the state legislature in order to pass a bill expanding insurance coverage for individuals diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

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