Autism Times Three

The Gaston triplets all suffer from autism, but each has different symptoms.

ByABC News via GMA logo
January 8, 2009, 12:14 AM

Dec. 27, 2007— -- From the beginning, life with the Gaston boys has been a loving exercise in controlled chaos.

Two years ago, each of the triplets was diagnosed with autism, a condition that affects an estimated one in every 150 children in the United States.

"Good Morning America" spent the day with the Gastons and spoke to the boys' parents, Lynn and Randy Gaston, about their struggle and never-ending devotion.

"You love them the day before you thought they had autism, and you love them the day they have autism and you're gonna still love them," says Lynn.

The Gastons spent seven years trying to have children before Lynn finally got pregnant. It was a shock for them to discover their dream of having a baby was multiplied by three.

"When you have no children for so long and all of a sudden you have three, its just like, great -- this is what you wanted," says Randy.

As the triplets, now 6 years old, started to grow the Gastons slowly started to realize their boys were having trouble.

"I noticed that the boys weren't playing together. I noticed they weren't playing appropriately with toys. I noticed Hunter started toe walking. Zachary, he would start covering his ears when any kind of sounds were around. Nicholas started to get withdrawn and go sit in a corner and just stare out the door, where before he was engaging and smiling," says Lynn.

When the boys were diagnosed, the Gastons had already suspected the all three shared the condition.

"Identical twins most of the time will both have autism. The rate of a fraternal twin having autism is zero to 10 percent, whereas for identical twins it is 80 to 90 percent. So that means that genes have a lot to do with it," explained Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

The Gastons try tirelessly to make every little activity into its own tiny therapy session. Playing trains can become a pop quiz, or asking for a soda can turn into a chance to reinforce verbal skills.