Feb. 26, 2012
Brandon Walters' younger brother, Shane, never has been to a Siena men's basketball game.
But if the Saints are on TV, you can be sure Shane is watching, quietly until his big brother steps to the free-throw line and his face fills the television screen.
"Brandon!" Shane will yell. "Brandon!"
It is one of the few words 20-year-old Shane can say.
Shane is 6-foot-5, and if things were different, Shane's mother thinks he would play football -- or maybe basketball, so he could be just like his big brother.
"He would want to follow in Brandon's footsteps," their mother says.
She sighs. "Sometimes," she adds, "I really hurt over the whole situation."
Shane was 5 when he was diagnosed with autism, a brain disorder that affects communication skills and social interactions, sometimes severely so.
Today, about 1 in 110 American children are diagnosed with autism, most between 2 and 3 years of age.
Shane was diagnosed in the early 1990s, long before national awareness campaigns such as "Autism Speaks."