Seeing hope in autism therapy

Friday, September 16, 2011 - 11:14am

BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) -- There is a lot that's still not known about autism. There are almost countless options for treatment, but no known cure. One mom in Lafayette has found a therapy that is working for her daughter, diagnosed with autism a year and a half ago.

When Ella Wilson first started classes at The Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation she was two years old and did not speak, smile or laugh. Her mother, Amy Wilson, had tried many treatments before and worked with her daughter everyday, but Ella was still slipping away. About a month into the class, though, Amy saw a change. For the first time since Ella started showing signs of autism at 14 months old, she looked into her mother’s eyes.

“We were at my mom's house and I was like 'Mom look, Ella look at me' and I said 'look at her! She's looking at us now, in my eyes, like she knows who I am now’,” remembers Amy. “Her world just opened up and now she's laughing and she's smiling and she's just happy.”

Autism has continued to loosen its grip on now three year old Ella. She’s tying her shoes, smiling, laughing out loud and following instructions – all major milestones she learned through the Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA program taught at Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing.

“We take these more complicated skills and break them down into manageable parts they can work with,” says psychologist, Brian Esteve, “and then we gradually build up these skills.”

The therapy has been around since the 1960’s. Speech Language Pathologist Meg Sprunger uses the techniques to teach communication.

“It’s so exciting when you see those small steps that you know have taken so much work from that child,” says Sprunger. “It's just amazing. It really makes you want to come to work everyday.”

Ella has learned to sound out a few consonants and vowels. She’s working now to put those together and could soon form her first words. Not all of the kids in Ella's class have autism. The Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation focuses on communication therapy for a wide range of disorders.

ABA therapy is not a cure for autism. Talk to your child's pediatrician about the best treatment for them.


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