Comedian D.L. Hughley has dealt with many struggles in his life — losing longtime pal Bernie Mac in 2008, working through his marriage of almost three decades after his infidelity, and raising his now 26-year-old son Kyle, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome as a child.
In a new episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now?, Hughley, 52, opened up about a seemingly small exchange with Kyle that meant so much to the proud dad. Though his son has graduated from college, he still struggles with the psychological need to strictly adhere to a routine.
“Everything has to be the same. He goes to work at the same time, he eats the same thing,” Hughley explained of his grown son. Then one day, Kyle offered to pump gas into the family’s car.
“He comes back in and he gives me the receipt and the keys, and I could not stop crying because he did something he was afraid to do,” Hughley said. “And I just didn’t believe he could do it, he did it, and I held him and I said, ‘You’re going to be alright.’”
Individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s often struggle with socializing and can require strict routines, and the slightest diversion from which can severely affect them.
Kyle has done alright for himself thus far as 35% of young adults with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school, according to a 2012 U.S. study published in Pediatrics.
“Autism doesn’t magically disappear in adolescence,” Paul T. Shattuck, lead researcher and assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said. “These kids grow up, and that’s the age group we know the least about.”