Ruth Christ Sullivan first fought for those with autism in the sixties as she struggled to help her young son Joseph reach his potential.
Joseph was included in a documentary called 'Autism: The Invisible Wall.' Sullivan admits it was very hard to manage Joe's behavior when he was young.
"One day I saw a man drive up, get out of his car, knock on my door, and say, 'lady, do you know there's a kid on your roof?' Joseph was four years old. Extremely agile. Not only that, he couldn't sit still. He screamed a great deal," said Sullivan.
Over five decades Joseph has come a long way and made much progress though, there is still much to learn about autism treatment and the cause. Sullivan is not convinced the controversial issue of preservatives in vaccines has been put to rest.
"I don't have an opinion about it. I can't say yes or no. We don't know yet," said Sullivan.
She's also concerned about changes in diagnosing autism.
"If the people who are diagnosing don't have a lot of experience with autism and have only seen the far ends which are clear, it's going to take a longer time probably for that child to get diagnosed," said Sullivan.
She says good advocacy by parents and professionals remains so important.
"When you have good advocacy you know a lot about autism and what can be done. You know what the right thing is to do. And you make sure that your staff and trained to do that and have the support that they need," said Sullivan.
At 90, Sullivan hopes to live long enough to know what causes autism.
"We're quite a bit closer. There's a lot of wonderful biochemical research being done and they're just now really getting to the brain seriously," she said.
And she says, life is good for Joe, now in his fifties.
"My six foot Joe can sit quite quietly, entertain himself, be quite responsive. I mean you're not going to have a conversation about life and death and what the legislature's doing today but you can have a brief conversation. He'll be appropriate. All these have been taught. These are not things that came to him naturally," said Sullivan.
Joe lives independently in West Virginia not far from his mother who is still active in the fight for adults with autism.