Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Howard McBroom, shown putting on his shoes, didn’t know he was autistic until eight years ago. He had spent nearly half a century not knowing why socializing was such a challenge.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Howard McBroom, 56, waits for the bus that will take him to church. His problems early in life -- a speech impediment, chronic clumsiness -- never raised great concerns, though they led to relentless bullying.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Howard McBroom, who was diagnosed with autism at age 49, presses the button at a crosswalk on his way to church. "When you have to live in the world with people that are generally more capable than you are, it is very demanding and it can even be dangerous," he said.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Howard McBroom looks over the bacon selection in a grocery store. In addition to his autism, he has difficulty with fine motor skills. Bacon and eggs are the only things he knows how to cook. Mostly he eats prepared sandwiches.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Even though it exhausts him, Howard McBroom works as a temporary crossing guard in Glendale. He takes his duties seriously.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Howard McBroom's apartment is filled with books. In 2007, he joined the board of the Lanterman Regional Center in Los Angeles, one of the agencies that arranges state-funded services for people with autism and other developmental disabilities. One of his priorities is identifying more autistic people who have been missed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Howard McBroom has images of women and couples from old magazines scattered around his apartment. He has never been on a date. "I guess in some ways [the photographs] remind me of what might have been and what I never had."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Yolanda Uriostegui, left, takes a few minutes to cook eggs and bacon for Howard McBroom. Uriostegui helps the residents at McBroom's complex clean their apartments.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

To curb his sense of isolation, Howard McBroom, right, became active with SpiritWorks Center for Spiritual Living. A church member helped steer him toward an autism diagnosis.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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As more children are diagnosed with autism, researchers are trying to find unrecognized cases of the disorder in adults. The search for the missing millions is just beginning.

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