April is Autism Awareness Month — and a hit ABC show is putting spectrum disorders in the spotlight.
In the April 22 and April 25 episodes, General Hospital spotlights the journey of Ned and Olivia who are in the process of adopting Leo, who also happens to have autism.
For actor Wally Kurth, who has played Ned Quartermaine on GH for more than three decades, it's a storyline that hits very close to home — he has a 17-year-old son who has autism.
"I’m excited that they’ve decided to tell the story because I can certainly relate to it," says Wally. "It is a shift. And it takes a moment to look at your child’s life and know that he sees the world different than you. He responds to the world differently. And some of these kids really need some help."
Wally says he and his family were lucky to find that help at his son's public school and he encourages others to try and find that support system that will help their kids live normal, productive, successful lives, no matter what they face.
"At a time when public school budgets are getting reduced, just know that those teachers are in my heart and there is no one better."
But Wally wants parents of special needs children to know that they are not alone and that even when the road gets bumpy, it's always worth it to reach the final destination.
"I always say it’s a journey for these kids and the parents. You will go down roads and paths you never imagined because they are unlike yours...I think it can be hard for parents. You have to put your 'big boy' pants on, step up and do the work, but I’m here to say there is a gift to it. He has become this child that has really transformed me, the way I look at my life, life in general, the community; he’s given me a lot of hope and love and I feel like I’m more of an open-hearted person because of him."
You can watch General Hospital weekdays on ABC15 at 1 p.m.