Hall Of Famer Jim Palmer And The Heartbreak Of Autism

Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer wears the "Autism Speaks" pin on his lapel whenever he is in public and especially when he broadcasts ball games for the Orioles on the MASN TV network.

But Palmer and his wife Susan would rather talk about Spencer, their 19-year-old son, than they would baseball.

Spencer happens to have autism.

He is a very happy person, and somewhat high functioning. Interestingly, he is a savant about trains.

Not all citizens with autism are savants of course, though the film 'Rain Man' might've implied that is the case.

Autism affects nearly 4 million Americans. It is the fastest growing developmental disability in this country.

That's nearly 1 of 45 children somewhere on the autism spectrum and that number is increasing.

It costs the U.S. nearly a quarter of a trillion in care, treatment and lost wages for those who need to be there for members of their family who have autism.

In the next 20 years, the numbers of autistic citizens could double according to the CDC.

Former sports stars like Doug Flutie, Ernie Els, Dan Marino, Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete, B.J. Surhoff and many others have children who happen to have autism.

The care and treatment for autistic citizens is enormous. Estimates range from 1 to 2 and half million dollars over the life of a family for both care and lost income.

There is no cure for autism, but early detection and treatment can make a difference, and that's why Jim and Susan Palmer want to tell their story.

Spencer will likely never work a job. He has no friends. He has never had a birthday party. But Spencer can talk and function with joy and humor every day.

Not all autistic citizens are so fortunate. Some will never speak. Some will never even be able to function as Spencer does. Please watch this moving and powerful story about the special person in the Palmer's life.

This is Spencer's story.