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MARQUETTE COUNTY — “Autism for us just means a different way of doing things.”
Lachlan Kinnunen is a typical seven-year-old boy in many ways. He likes to play outside, and is passionate about the things he loves most.
“I play outside with him with his flags, I play with him upstairs with his fan…one of his favorite things. I chase him around the house sometimes. We play with our dog Fanny,” said Lachlan’s sister Athena.
Lachlan was diagnosed with autism at a young age, which medically is discussed as a spectrum because of its broad range of symptoms.
Dr. Jacob Daar, Director of the NMU BEAR Center, explained, “An individual who’s been diagnosed with Autism may on one end have highly developed language skills but really just struggle with social interactions. All the way down to an individual having rather complex and intense difficulty with interacting with other people. May have little to no language skills.”
Lachlan is non-verbal. But thanks to his family’s persistence and local resources, he’s seen some big changes.
Lachlan’s dad, Jeffrey Kinnunen, says, “The important thing when you have a child with disabilities, it’s the same as if you’re a parent of any other kind of child where you have to help them excel and be the best version of themselves that they can be, no matter what they’re interests are or what their capabilities are, because we are all different.”
“Since he’s non-verbal, he uses a communication device. He can select the pictures and the words that he wants to say, and it will actually say it for him,” said Lachlan’s mom Lora Kinnunen.
“He actually only had a few words and sounds he was making a year ago. And know he’s saying more than 20, 30 words,” she added.
Including Fanny…which is how the newest addition to the family got her name.
“It made sense because it’s his favorite thing ever. People think that Fanny is named after a grandma or aunt or something. Nope, box and ceiling fans,” Athena said. “Literally the appliance at your home is what the dog is named after.”
Learn more about the resources that Lachlan’s family used below: