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Understanding Autism: A Benefit to Everyone


Kathleen Reish


Topic: Understanding Autism: A Benefit to Everyone

The Developmental disability called Autism can be difficult to disassemble with all the many pieces that contribute to its hold on your loved one. The symbol for autism is a multi colored ribbon with puzzle pieces. This is because the disorder is multi-faceted and complex. It is often missed by the pediatrician until the child is between the ages of 2 and 3 years of age. Many pediatricians assure the parents that the child is developing slower than normal but will catch up. Precious time is wasted with this relaxed response.

This disorders scientific explanation states that it is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. The development of the areas that control social interaction and communication skills are affected. This affects the verbal and social abilities of both children and adults affected by the syndrome.

Autism is described as having a spectrum of disorders associated with it. ADD (Attention Deficit), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder), Asperger’s and PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) are on this spectrum. The severity of the effect on the individual makes the spectrum result realize, Autism being the most sever. The most important thing to know is that the child with this diagnosis has the ability to learn and function to greater degrees than 10, 20, 30 years ago. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment is started, the more likely the full potential of the child will be realized.

The numbers that are affected have been reported as high as 1 out of every 166 and as low as 1 in every 250. This would mean that there are at least 1.5 million Autistic individuals in America today. These are frightening numbers. The worst part of this information is that Autism is still on the rise and growing at a rate of 10 to 17 percent a year.

There is an interesting connection why it is 4 times more prevalent in boys than girls. Research is showing that estrogen blocks the binding of heavy metals that can be associated with the cause of Autism. Testosterone does not. So it stands to reason that more boys would be affected than girls.

Each individual is just that, an individual. They are unique and have their own personalities and characteristics. Each new diagnosed child needs to have an individual plan that is going to assist that child’s individual needs and help him or her attain their potential. There are many approaches in varying therapies. One may work with one child more effectively than another. It is best to find the fit for your child.

Guest: Kathleen Reish, author/lecturer

It is Kathleen B. Reish’s passion to bridge the gap between the world of the family and child affected with autism and those who have not had this tragedy at their door. These two worlds collide on campuses and off campuses everyday.

Kathleen has a sibling who is mentally handicapped who inspired her journey to want to help the disabled. She started her college years studying to be a Special Ed Teacher. This path was interrupted by the birth of her first daughter. Now the mother of five, three of her own and 2 by marriage to her husband Bill, has found herself back on her quest to touch lives after writing “Matthew’s Box”. This eloquent children’s picture story was inspired by her 8 year old stepson Matthew. Her focus is to teach us all how to have empathy for, as well as how to embrace, the people around us that are different. Whether it is autism, or another disability, these special people have much to offer us, and we can reach out to champion their growth and emergence from the isolation these challenges present for them and their family.

Now she ventures to many different arenas to spread this word and teach others to embrace the differences in others and open their hearts and minds so they may be touched by the many wondrous encounters available by knowing children with disabilities.

Kathleen also spends her time arranging intervention for orphan’s health around the world with the organization MannaRelief. This organization addresses the needs of medically fragile children in the United States and abroad. Some of the proceeds from her book sales are donated to MannaRelief as well as the Autism Society of Santa Barbara.



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