Children's diagnoses help parents gain own insights

When Phil and Susan Schwarz's son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, they began to reconsider their own childhoods and found intriguing patterns: sensitivities to light and sound, certain intellectual gifts. "It happens very frequently, with all sorts of disorders," said Gregory Fritz, a child psychiatrist and academic director of Rhode Island's Bradley Hospital. "Sometimes it's a real surprise, because the child is the first one in the family ever to get a thorough evaluation and history. The parents are there and they begin to see the pattern."

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