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Mat Rogers & Chloe Maxwell: How our son is beating autism

The star couple were devastated when their young son retreated into a shell. Now he's been diagnosed with autism, they tell Katherine Chatfield he's responding to treatment in leaps and bounds.

Max shrieks with delight as his mum chases him round the house pretending to be a monster. Giggling, he throws his arms round her, clasping his sticky fingers around her neck and giving her a kiss.

It might seem like perfectly normal behaviour for a three-year-old, but for Max's parents, rugby legend Mat Rogers and wife Chloe Maxwell, the scene is truly remarkable; just eight weeks ago, Max could barely interact with anyone, let alone laugh or talk.

The bubbly blond boy was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in March, after Chloe and Mat noticed he appeared to be living in his own little world.

"When Max was about 18 months, he seemed to go backwards in the way he was developing," Chloe tells Woman's Day. "We used to ask him to show us his muscles and he'd give us a muscle-man pose. But he stopped doing that. Then he wouldn't give Mat a kiss any more. He'd have quite violent tantrums for no reason and look at me like he wanted to kill me. That was so hard — he's my little boy. One day I found him in the pantry stacking cans like he was obsessed. When I looked him in the eye it was like I couldn't see him any more. He just wasn't connecting with us."

After several tests, Max was diagnosed with autism. "It means he finds it difficult to communicate and socialise with others," explains the former Jeanswest model. Although she was relieved to know what was wrong, she struggled to come to terms with what the diagnosis meant for Max's future.

But the strength of Mat and Chloe's relationship has helped them cope with everything that's been thrown at them.

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