Jeff and Karen Katz’ oldest son Nate was born on August 30, 1990. Beautiful, smart, able to read at 3 years old, there was something clearly something off this boy. He babbled continuously, a steady stream of quotes from Disney videos and his favorite books. There was no voluntary speech. He rarely looked into the eyes of his parents. Jeff and Karen were at sea, troubled and unsure, heartbroken at the thought there was a problem. No one offered sound advice until a chance article in Karen’s hometown newspaper pointed them to hyperlexia, a disorder on the autism spectrum.
Through years of dedication, perseverance and an unyielding insistence that Nate could achieve much, Jeff and Karen, along with Nate’s brothers and a support group of teachers, aides, therapists and others, have worked with Nate to get him where he is today.
And where is that? Nate is a college graduate who has had an art gallery show in Manhattan and is starting a business based on his own designs, called Alpha Folks.

12 Responses to About

  1. ann brown says:

    Great writing, Jeff. I really enjoyed your trip to Oswego! Do you think Nate was quoting in the elevator or seeing?!

  2. Jennifer Convey says:

    Just found this website and had to respond. I had Nate as a student at Daniel Wright in Lincolnshire, Il. I am so proud to have read how far he has come. It does not surprise me though, his parents have also been very dedicated to his learning.

  3. So nice to hear from you Ms. Convey. I just told Nate what you said and that you read Mission of Complex. Of course, he remembers you and thought your comment was “cool.” I’m working on a bigger project about Nate and, if it pans out, I’ll make sure readers of the blog are in the know. Please share Mission of Complex with anyone who remembers little Nate (which is usually everyone he’s met).

  4. Betsy Woodin says:

    This could be my 13 yr old son’s story in a few years. He could read before kindergarten, but was placed in self-contained (SED) because he could not manage himself in a reg ed classroom. We have struggled to find the best way to educate a big, gifted, high functioning autistic/aspergers student with a unique sense of humor and weak social skills. After 2 miserable years in middle school we are doing a charter school/home school and he is a very motivated student. I expect him to go to college and I too hope my son can live independently someday. It is very comforting to read about Nate and his “interests” that are so familiar. My boy has been describing things like entire Sponge Bob episodes to anyone within earshot for the last 10 years!

    • Betsy, hang in there. We had some trouble with early schooling and Nate ended up in a behavioral program for two years before mainstreaming for 2nd Grade. He always says that the program “fixed his brain.” Not quite, but it set him up for success. Don’t know how many posts you’ve read, but they run a range from early years to present. Happy to be helpful. We always searched for stories of “future Nates” so we could at least have some sense of where we were heading.

  5. Ann Kilter says:

    I am just beginning the process of looking back at how far we have come in our family. I have two adult children with high functioning autism. (and one college student who has different challenges). My older two children have both graduated from college (BA) in the last year or so, and they are looking for work. They have not yet found work, except for Goodwill work. It’s very frustrating, especially for my son. He didn’t have classic hyperlexia, but once he did learn to read at the age of seven, he was reading at the 11th grade level by 4th grade. With a lot of support within the small school district my son attended, he graduated first in his class, and went on to college. My older daughter has some comorbid conditions (brain damage at birth).

    • Ann,

      Thanks for commenting. I was just talking to a couple a few days ago about their son, a junior in high school, and how to prepare him for college. One of the things I said was that sometimes it’s hard to seperate the “normal” from the “syndrome.” With Nate a few months from graduating, I realize that if he ends up without a job and living with his parents, he’ll be just like millions of other kids his age. Mainstream at last!

      Kidding aside, your kids sound like they have achieved much, and that’s a lot to be proud of. I’m no Pollyanna, but good things will happen to this generation, especially since the public knows, and somewhat understands, much about them. Good luck.


  6. Amber says:

    I stumbled across your blog when I googled, “Shedd Aquarium and autism.” Great post about your experience, btw…
    My son is 5 1/2 and has had an ASD diagnosis for 2 years. I am not a blog person, but I love reading Nate’s story. The future is so scary…I am sure you remember and still think about the future every day. Luckily, my son has also had an amazing support system of teachers, therapists, administrators, and family, so far. And stories like Nate’s give me lots of hope. Bummed that you’re taking a break right when I started reading, but congrats on the book and good luck!!

    • Glad you found us! Though I’m taking a break there’s a book’s worth of blog posts – over 200, I think. There’s plenty for you to catch up on.

      The future was scary for us too and we were desperate to hear stories, any stories, of a possible future for Nate. Writing Mission of Complex is my way of telling parents like you that there are possibilities out there. Nate’s story isn’t you son’s story, or anyone else’s, but it is a good story and provides a glimmer of hope. Keep reading and commenting. I’ll reply to any questions you’ve got.

  7. filixfemina says:

    You’ve done a much better job of keeping up with your blog than I have about my own son, Nate. We’ve traveled along similar paths, right from the reading toddler part!! As a single and struggling to work mother, I ‘ended up’ homeschooling my ASD/ADHD son Nate for most of his school career. Now he is 19 and a senior in college, an artist in his own right, and…he works for the YMCA as a belayer, volunteered for Habitat For Humanity, and works for Hannaford’s competitor, and has for nearly two years. It’s not what I had planned for him, either, but … it has been one of the greatest helps we’ve had socially. In a month he was a cashier, in a year he was looking each customer in the face and at least saying hello – now he speaks to them. He went from working two hours at a time to yesterday’s first full eight and a half hours! Four years ago he couldn’t stand the lights for moer than fifteen minutes. The structure there helps, too…expectations are clear. It’s boring for him but at the end of the day his brain can still create — that’s a plus. Keep plugging away….I will, too. Whew. 🙂 ~Lorri

    • Thanks. I’ve been taking time off to write a book, but I’ll be back. We’re still in the process of finding an appropriate job for our Nate. It’s always good to hear other people’s success stories.

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