Early Intervention Benefits Autistic Children
Apr. 5, 2007 (KABC-TV) (KABC) -- Ask him a question and four-and-a-half-year-old Norton Kell doesn't miss a beat.
His mom says he's come a long way since the day he was diagnosed with autism.
"He ... wouldn't focus, wouldn't look at me, wouldn't lock with me," Kristina Kell, Norton's mother, said.
He wouldn't eat, he'd obsess over objects and he had a hard time moving from one activity to another.
"Today you can almost never tell that he had an autistic issue," Kristina said.
"There's a period of time during the early development of the brain where a child is most susceptible to learning and input," Dr. Barbara Firestone said.
Dr. Firestone is President and CEO of The Help Group. It's a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children with special needs like autism.
Although more children are being diagnosed with autism, she says early intervention can help them live productive lives.
"Every child, no matter how significantly impacted that child may be, possesses the potential to make progress," Dr. Firestone said.
A lack of empathy or recognizing how others feel is a hallmark of autism.
Learning emotions is just one of the skills Norton needs to learn. Teachers and therapists use a combination of strategies. One of them is called discreet trial training.
Autism varies in intensity and degree, but Dr. Firestone says all kids can unlock their full potential. All they need is an early start and a helping hand.
"Today we can say full-hearted that autism and hope are no longer mutually exclusive terms," Dr. Firestone said.
"I just know the early intervention that Norton got changed our lives," Kristina said.
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