Autistic kids lead a different lifestyle - WRBL

Autistic kids lead a different lifestyle

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One in 50 children live with autism, and that number is growing.

Aimee Connors' three-year-old son Owen is quiet and introverted, but change something as simple as the ride home and he'll start screaming.

"They usually strive in a structured, scheduled environment," says Connors. "If you really want your child to shine, you're going to be consistent with the people they're around, the places you go, the things you do. Routine."

Diane Pope's son grew up with Asberger's syndrome, a form of autism, and now runs his own computer business. When he was a child, however, Pope was wary of leaving him in the care of others. She says, "You have to trust that they're going to be ok, and that the school system or the daycare or whatever is going to do the right thing for your child. But the main thing is the caregivers need to be trained."

As technology advances, doctors have found that the best way to help kids with autism is Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA therapy, which individualizes treatment for each child.

Connors says the treatment is helping Owen learn how to speak. "They'll have him imitate sounds or gestures," she says, "or waving a flag or matching shapes, and every time he completes a successful number of tasks, he gets to go and do something fun."

Pope is also developing a class to teach adults how to work with autistic kids. "Sometimes I think what we need is not training for our kids, but training for everyone else to just accept them for what they are," says Pope.

Through the right support, autistic kids are becoming functioning members in society.

April is National Autism Awareness Day.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

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