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Autistic Kids Can Improve With Help, Author Says

By Sandy Spurgeon Mcdaniel for the Register


A chance meeting in a walk-in medical office brought

into my life. has written " A Real Boy: A True Story of Autism,

Early Intervention and Recovery. " She and I have become friends and now have

the same literary agent.

When I read 's exquisitely written book, I was excited to see

that significant changes to a child's diet along with intensive therapy for

behavior and speech, can often help a child improve quickly.

At age 15 months, 's son Jonah lost his language skills,

social skills and attention span. He became hyperactive and aggressive. Two

preschools expelled Jonah.

At nearly 3 Jonah was diagnosed with autism. He immediately began

dietary, speech, behavioral training and language-building therapies. Three

weeks later he pointed to a car (autistic children rarely point) and asked

his first question.

At age 4, Jonah passed a pre-kindergarten exam given to him by

credentialed testers who had no knowledge of his autism. Today, Jonah is in

third grade; advanced in language skills, top of his class academically with

some attention difficulties, and is doing well socially.

In a recent interview with , I asked her to help me

understand autism and what can be done to help parents.

: In my Newport Beach neighborhood, there were originally four

families dealing with various forms of autism; now there are nearly two

dozen families in that same area.

Mc: What do you think is the reason for this huge increase

across the country?

: I've just returned from a Senate meeting in Washington D.C. and

the government is struggling with how to handle the national increase in

autism and related problems. Right now, the primary focus on the cause of

autism is on genetics and environment, and how they interact.

Mc: Since everyone reading this piece knows or is likely to know

someone with an autistic child, what five things would you want them to


: No. 1: The autism spectrum ranges from very mild to severe. 2:

Many persons with autism are very bright, but have a hard time

communicating. 3. Many apparently normal people have undiagnosed

autism-spectrum disorders. 4. People on the spectrum have many of the same

feelings and emotions as everyone else, they just have difficulty showing

it. 5. If a kid is acting " naughty " or odd, don't assume the parent is doing

a bad job; the child may have a behavior disorder such as Asperger's

syndrome, a mild form of autism found in some bright, verbal children.

The Mc discipline system was developed for a boy with ADHD and

Asperger's syndrome. Now we see it working with every type of child.

says all children and adults with autism can improve their

skills. They need help and the earlier they get it, the better the outcome.

In Part 2 of this column next week, we will address safeguards against

autism, things to look for in your child's behavior and what to do if autism

comes to your home.

will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming conference for

parents, teachers and professionals held by the Pomona Valley Learning

Disabilities Association, titled " ADHD, Autism or Behavioral Disorders: The

Links Which Bind Us. " It will be held Aug.18-19 in Ontario. Go to

www.christinaadamswriter.com for more information or to contact her.

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