Dougie Jr. was diagnosed with childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), a very rare autism spectrum disorder, when he was three years old. Dougie was a typically developing until he started to lose his language, motor and social skills at age three. At the time, there were no services offered for people and families with autism. Doug and Laurie started the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism to help other people and families with autism have access to the same opportunities, therapies and programs to live life to the fullest. Twenty-two years later, Dougie continues to inspire everyone around him with his infectious smile and passion for all thing’s sports. During the day, Dougie attends the Scott Center for Autism in Florida, where he resides with his mom and dad, and his two dogs, Lou Lou and Elsa. Dougie's favorite activities include swimming in the pool, horseback riding and spending time with his friends and family. "People really connect with him," says his proud dad. "We give comfort to families so they feel like they're not alone."
Q & A with Doug Flutie about Dougie, Jr:
1. Favorite thing your child likes to do:
Dougie loves to swim, whether its in a pool or in the ocean. He actually taught himself how to swim in our family pool. He figured out in the deep end that if he kicks his feet and moves his hands he will stay above the water and he can now swim in the deep end without a vest on in any pool. He used to be nervous to go in the ocean but now that he swims very well in the pool I think it built up his confidence for the ocean and he now goes in the ocean with his family and body surfs. He loves swimming and I love the fact that he can do this on his own and feel independent (with supervision of course). We are very proud of Dougie for teaching himself how to swim.
2. Favorite food:
Dougie actually loves a wide variety of food and has a very good appetite but I have to say that pizza is definitely his favorite food. Especially pepperoni pizza. When our family orders pizza we get a whole pizza for Dougie because he will easily eat about 5 pieces for 1 meal and then finish the rest for snack later that day or the next day. Dougie loves his pizza!
3. Best lesson your child has taught you:
Dougie has taught us to keep our lives in the right perspective. He has taught us to take it one day at a time, don't take anything for granted and appreciate everything about life, especially the small things. But most especially he has taught us how to smile and be happy and look at every aspect of life in the most positive way possible.
4. Your favorite activity to do with your child:
I love to go in the ocean with Dougie and body surf or just play in the waves. We do nothing but laugh and I know that Dougie is really enjoying himself. I also love to take Dougie for rides on our jet ski. He absolutely loves it and the faster we go the better according to Dougie.
5. I love Dougie because:
Because he is my son and he makes me smile and laugh. When I've had a stressful day and I come home and Dougie is so happy to see me and he is looking at me with his trademark huge smile and happy, positive attitude, without a care in the world it makes me feel so much better. His smile lights up a room and he has made my life so happy.
6. Dougie's favorite saying:
Dougie is non verbal but when he is hungry or thirsty he always vocalizes the sound "NUM" which means I need to eat or drink. So "NUM" is definitely his favorite saying because he really enjoys eating, especially when there is pepperoni pizza around.
Dougie is diagnosed with CDD, which is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. It is a low functioning form of autism and those diagnosed are usually non verbal, require 1 to 1 therapy and are dependent on others for their lifetime.
8. Best lesson Dougie teaches the world:
Help others! No matter what your situation is you can use it in a positive way and help others through your experience.. Things happen for a reason and we feel that Dougie's calling was to help those affected by autism and we are so proud of Dougie and the Doug Flutie Jr Foundation for Autism. We want all those dealing with autism to know that they are not alone, this can happen to anyone. Dougie inspires us to help him help others dealing with autism and we will continue to do so for many years to come.