By all appearances, Patrick McCaffrey seems like your average CSU student. He has a girlfriend, is a freshman having fun in the dorms and is adjusting to college life.
What most don’t know is that he has autism.
Patrick McCaffrey was first diagnosed with the disability when he was 2 years old, and although Autism Awareness Month ends on Sunday, it doesn’t end for him. The road to Patrick McCaffery’s diagnosis was a long one for the McCaffrey family.
“He just wasn’t developing the same. We kept taking him in and the doctors would just say, ‘He’s fine,’” said Debra McCaffrey, his mother.
Life was a struggle for Patrick McCaffrey after his diagnosis. While there are many symptoms of autism, it came, for him, in the form of delayed speech. The doctors were originally helpless on how to treat him.
“Doctors said there was no hope for me, and then my mom found opportunities,” he said.
Patrick McCaffrey was eventually put into speech occupational therapy classes and sensory integration training to assist him in concentrating and reducing the amount of disturbances that kept him from being able to form words.
“I wouldn’t make full sentences ‘til I was 7,” he said. “I wouldn’t make eye contact.”
Growing up, Patrick McCaffrey was placed in the same classes as his peers with the exception that he had a teacher’s aide in his English classes.
“I was always in the same classes. I had normal math. It was just English that I was struggling in,” he said.
But that is no longer the case. Patrick McCaffrey speaks perfect English with only a slight stutter that goes unnoticed until he points it out.
And while Patrick McCaffrey studies hard, he also plays hard.
He grew up an avid hockey fan and has played since his childhood. He now plays for CSU’s inline club team as a defenseman.
The sport is one of his passions, and his face lights up when he describes the game.
“I love hockey,” he said. “It’s my favorite sport.”
Hockey may be one of his hobbies, but it has also helped him in dealing with his condition.
“Hockey definitely helped him in overcoming his autism,” Debra McCaffrey said. “The more physical the activity, the more it integrates into his brain.”
Staff writer Jordyn Dahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.