Family shares their story during month highlighting autism awareness

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT)- As Autism Awareness Month comes to an end, one Paragould mom shares her story on raising an autistic son and what she had learned over the years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last month showing 1 in 50 U.S.children have autism, surpassing an earlier study that showed 1 in 88 children.

Health officials say the new number doesn't mean autism is occurring more often, but that doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently. According to the CDC, at least 1 million children have autism.

"We had suspicionswhen he was about 18 months," said mother, Bianca Jordan.

"When they're that young they're really too young to tell soyou have to let it develop basically," she said.

Jordan said she took her child back to the pediatrician with he was 2-years-old and he diagnosed her son, Staley, with autism.

"The main thing you have to realize is autism is patience,patience, patience," Jordan said.

"He may not understand things or catch on as quickly asothers, he doesn't learn like other kids.

Jordan said children with autism also develop a sensory processing disorder so they may be sensitive to lights, sounds, tastes or textures.

"If there are brightlights in Wal-Mart for example, we have to wear sunglasses becausethe fluorescent lights are so bright that they cause his brain to go intosensory overload."

After Staley was diagnosed, Jordan took him to the Childand Youth Pediatric Day clinic in Paragould for therapy.

"The progress he's made here, I cant event begin todescribe, he's a whole new kid," Jordan said.

"It's also rewarding seeinghim get the hang of something normals kids, it might not be a big deal to otherparents but to me it's like the best thing in the world," she said.

Staley undergoes therapy at the clinic that helps with his development,speaking and social skills.

"Early intervention is important for kids with autism," said Lindsey Eades, speech language pathologist with the clinic.

"When I first saw Staley he did not speak at all, he criedand he would play with toys but not appropriately," Eades said.

Jessica Rister is an occupational therapist at the clinic and also worked with Staley.

"I think a large misconceptionis that these kids are not smart and that they are not getting what we aretelling them, I think they get it. I think it's just out job to unlock that forthem and for them to be able to interact with us," Rister said.

But for Jordan, she said she has learned a lot from raising a child with autism.

"I have learned a great respect for people who have to dealwith special needs of any kind," Jordan said.

A new study released Thursday revealed that doctors may be able todiagnose a child's risk of autism at birth by looking at the abnormal folds oftheir placenta.

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