I love that hour with Dennis -- very very special man -- how lucky we have -- to a -- him in broadcasting in this town for thirty years. Onto our next show one child in 68. Will be born with a form of autism in this country. Autism is described as a neurological disorder characterized by difficulty communicating. And forming relationships. The numbers are startling and the need to know more about what ought to -- is and what can be done to prevent is gaining urgency. Autism is not one singular symptom but includes a spectrum of behaviors. As the medical and scientific communities look for answers. Today we're gonna talk with parents who were living the experience with their children. -- motel well known sports director and anchor channel four as an eighteen year old son -- Who was diagnosed when he was great when he history. Kelly Fisher. Has a beautiful son Noah thirteen he goes to Lafayette. Academy great. They felt -- -- ten year old daughter Kirsten. Actually skiers and Hairston and common interest into my new. Love the -- cares to. Where did she does she is a green park green park elementary school. And also joining us is gonna join us just to -- is Julie Riley who is the coordinator of the Louisiana autism spectrum. And related disabilities project. At the -- issue Health Science Center I do appreciate all of you being here. I'm gonna start with that -- in Kelley and -- For you to tell us about your beautiful children and at what point did you realize something was not right. Well for us Quentin was our first child so. He he was a little off kilter and we didn't was if we head. Our daughter first we've got to realize much quicker and a lot from parents of kids with autism on. At that time lived in the state of Florida near Pensacola. And the official diagnosis. You can get at the age now moved that up in the states but at that time again that the race when. One day after eight and -- We unofficial. Psychological evaluation he came back. EDT which is you know pervasive developmental delays and and we knew it was autism but that's we needed that diagnosis to get in school so he started full time school. And I'm not talking about naps on government full time school. Eight hours today on a school bus when he was story. That was in gulf breeze Florida which is -- worked its beaches and it was a great school he's been in school obsessions and right now. He's an animal -- and -- graduate. Next year not actually he has two more years and -- -- who graduate with a normal. Everyday the high school. Wonderful. Okay. Situation a little different and that I was born extremely premature. So he was born with a variety of disabilities. And so. The autism diagnosis didn't come until later probably around the age of six. And that's partially -- some of the behaviors he was showing were common for kids to had a vision impairment and he was born blind. And so it actually was fortuitous that I had a friend who was born blind in one day she sent me down and she said. These things are not vision impairment that things he's doing right now something else is going on and you probably should have it checked out. And so we did and he was diagnosed likeness and a little later. And so that was just am. And a good day in a bad day it was a good day because we had a name and to me I saw a door opening for marching -- A variety of options. Help us. It's a bad day because any time that labeled it's been on you have to kind of learn how you're an island with. Yeah on Hairston was born perfectly healthy babies RX seven and a half towns you know. You know of apparent hey we got a healthy baby you're happy and then. You know we started seeing a developmental delays along the way you know -- walking and should walk on her knees and now -- eggs and the lack of eye contact and that hadn't before she was too she was diagnosed with the autism. You know label and down. Which is good you -- you wanna get it diagnosed earlier the batter pickers. You know we were able to get her into a lot of but the words in four programs the programs that you know early treatment early treatment about -- so. And she went to regular school. Shahzad has been on a regular class. And she's she's moving forward and she's in middle school right now just took the leap tests we anticipating that she's she's going to pass -- -- tests actually. I use this is my break moment now -- They had to do speech for a class they had to do a dramatic species to memorize a a poem and do in front of the class that's a hard thing for any. Fourth -- let alone some with autism that's in that particular like to get up and do social activities there. And not only did she do this speech but she actually finished -- class. And they have a big competition this Wednesday that their filming for the Jefferson Parish. Public channel that she's going to be competing with the other students. Huge deal to take this child that in the beginning didn't talk alive didn't make eye contact is out there. You know did this dramatic speeches finished desperately. So. No brag -- and brag. I think Q you said -- the best feeling you know it's the best today worst. Set understanding of something is not normal. But at least we know that there are things can be done it can help to certain degree yeah he stuck to lay out a plan of attack at that point yeah. How to vote do you get past the emotional. Moment. Well I think for a parent it's a bit of a grieving process and I don't know that it's just one moment. -- there's that. Relates to him and it is that time when you're told and you have to -- Canada office and decide where you're gonna you know threats that day that week -- that month. But then there are steps on the way where you. You know. The first time you're kid is in middle school line you're noticing that there dances or after school activities your child's not going to. All are when you kind of realize that birthday parties that's not going to be something that your child is -- naturally be invited to perhaps. All our. You know my son's thirteen but his interests arm. What you consider around a three or for -- world in terms of activity so you kind of start to let go of what you too. Pictured him doing at thirteen or fourteen or fifteen and you focus on what is huge it is. But it is. It's that momentum then -- just in these weird circumstances it'll come out later that will be a reminder. How. Maybe his life path isn't what you had. Had in your mind when you examine your heavy child or having your mind when you bet for the there's times at. But it it's possible I think you get past it by focusing on. I have an actor he said. You're gonna hear a lot of recommendations are gonna see about a doctor as you can see a lot of specialists in Tennessee. A lot of therapists. They're gonna have prescriptions. Programs recommendations and he said I want you always remember. That your son is your son first and foremost and he's a patient -- client secondary sedan ever forget that that's it's -- and so. You did get -- it by the sense of you know for us where family and sometimes it sounds weird but I forget that knows different until something or someone outside of us. Reminds me and I have to say he needs needs something on a different sort of forgotten it. There's anything other than a year that makes it perfectly set now if you'd. -- again and were gonna want everybody to stay with this because we're gonna talk more about what this is. And done and the specifics of what these parents have done to help their kids stay with -- I'm Angela on -- well. We're talking about autism and we just met three incredible parents who have children with autism varying degrees of it. -- -- Thomas eighteen year old son Clinton Kelly Fisher who's thirteen year old son Noah and -- Feld who who has a ten year old daughter cures to. And listening to your stories. Again as as parents around their driving and they're listening in your thinking you know I really don't know what it would be like every day. You have helped describe. That the the specialness of your child but we're gonna get more into what you had to do to get them where they are today. And joining us with that is Julie Riley again who's the coordinator of the Louisiana autism spectrum and related disabilities project. As the LSU Health Science Center and I appreciate you being here first of all. Every year it seems like the numbers grow. Now it's but I think 68 when I'm 61 in 68. Is it an epidemic or are we just identifying better. And that's it. Waiting leaning tour at that he. Identifying -- matter because there's more awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the characteristics. The cause is still hasn't yet unknowns that there is some. Theories out there Allen is causing autism as of now Nolan and it says it doesn't. I am in their area there are larger numbers that I think is Douglas an earlier some individuals who might have been saying had Asperger's syndrome. Years again may have gone and -- as -- by an indictment are. Individuals among them -- significantly impaired man indictments or something else so there is better. Awareness of what the characteristics of autism are and better diagnosis more places are willing to get the dinosaurs as well. The there is a difference though between and mental retardation. And autism right intellectual disability is right away mental retardation any time. That's being used now on there is a difference on individuals and -- of the spectrum disorder there is no. Cognitive. Impairment or characteristic it doesn't matter what individuals like Hewitt as they can have an IQ very higher IQ very well -- -- -- Dependent on the cognitive level of individual so it goes back to what you'll. It is a -- difference in. Communicating with people yeah. No question yet -- -- autism addicts. At its core is a social inability. It's also Clinton's biggest difficulty in school will always be inference. We were talking about Mac that he could have taken algebra that I took when he got you know. Two X equals six Quinn what got -- -- -- -- now export problems if you try to tricky and you probably will. He during theme sing in -- seeing what people are feeling those things are very difficult for -- he is incredibly liberal. He can look at a Mac and memorize it -- in history class he's going to be terrific he can certainly memorize formulas. On its reading between the lines that Quentin and I only speak for him but I think that's probably true with most kids with. Houston. Oh yeah yeah definitely -- to problems we have with with math now -- is as -- as hazardous. And you know instead of the -- the social skills you know I mean she she is very verbal she does speak. Playing with other kids appears her age is still -- difficult to tour. And is. Do you -- Your children in the relative schools are there other kids with autism. There yes so did they are they friends. Or it doesn't make any difference. It doesn't make any difference but they -- she doesn't know. There is another one -- at her school and on their friends because they played the same miracle league baseball team to gather and his. His -- my attorney Brothers I was just kind of you know we we go back and forth asking what do you do with him what do you do with our. Just get -- to deceive we cut that that magical crystal ball answer there. Quinn said friends with kids with disabilities get to that disability -- and again his French ships or. Quite the same on he definitely has difficulty but he is friendly and gets along with people he's -- especially African with it is he's extremely gregarious. But a lot of very -- that when -- and friendships will always be difficult for him and that's that's one of the things we were talking about the one thing about autism and I think it. The one piece of advice that I give parents and for an a minus on the -- And she's -- us on -- heavens and developmental problems who knows it's autism but. The one thing -- -- the thing about autism that is hardest thing for parents is that you have to give up. Long term control. You can't look at your work by you rolled. And try to think on you know we'll -- people get married -- college like that stuff will drive you nuts you gotta you gotta roll while -- away. Or put it in the back ran and say OK what's best for my child right now. And for us we have only ever been able to look at -- -- a year in advance need be to you. Because if we are trying to figure out the problems of five years from now at a time we get there the problems and actually exist at nothing to do with the ones we thought what exits. And you have to like my daughter is thirteen. Or fifteen and ridiculously normal I know which he's gonna be like when she's twenty and I can see you know. Quit and I had no idea what he's where he's going to be in a year and a half. -- -- and and that's the one thing. That she was sort of touching on that he you have to sort of give up that sense of control and that's. Heart yeah. Let's talk about what fueled did after they were diagnosed arguments at three years was a little younger leaders later older. Older but I'm sorry about that and then you're how old was cute and she was under three under and resulting in what kicks in at that time. Two to give you all held. I hate to say is it's. Come along way since since. Even when we'd get it because you know he didn't really nowhere to go back. Have found a balance there. We're being better communicated with the resources that are available out there you know that the family's -- and family ST. Autism society. You name -- they have resources does the support groups there that. Might not have been there before you know we've tried that we've done that acts and and when we first stated we we tried everything I mean the typical you get an early steps and they do -- speech therapy and -- occupational therapy. In a little things working on how to write with a pencil -- and how to speak correctly you know then we started trying out all the new things the ABA therapy. Which we we found a lot of good. Came from that you know pierced and didn't -- -- and EI back then national action now she would wave to you back then she'd learn how to wave. In therapy you know we tried the RD IA. Which is -- to teach them not to do. Not social cues but just look at somebody and pick up what their meaning of what they want you to do. Autistic kids have problems pick and social cues up taught of that so we we did a lot of really early intervention with -- And it's it's it's shown. A lot of growth and like I was saying before you. You know if out of play and at that age when she was nailed another -- on a ball. Because you just never know when things are gonna when a white balls and clicking your child. And you know -- a look back and notices a little off subject you know we see these commercials all the time you know they generate a lot of awareness out there. And I like to tell the parents out there you know you get that diagnosis. In his commercials sometimes -- draw the awareness which is great. But they also make it sound like it's doom and gloom and it's going to be horrible and it's and it's not. You know it's it's which you put into it and -- child can turn any day. And you know don't give up you know let's hope. There -- stay with this we're gonna continue our talk on autism right after this we are talking autism and out with three parents who have autistic children. And with a woman truly Riley who is coordinator of -- -- in autism spectrum related disabilities project what is that project. We support professional development and schools across the state -- educating students with optimism and related disabilities. And we also provide. In classroom pitching for teachers. So immensely provide an educational supports -- teachers and we have partners schools across the sailor -- more intense support and also offer. Online training in their face to face and across this. Have most autistic children have been mainstreamed. Then that's a tough question of Allen's famous that and that's what we push for. As for individuals with autism for students not to entity in the inclusive setting to be in general education classes the educated with it appears. With the appropriate support and can't. Being gauged in the conversations in the classroom and be invited at the that they might get to the other students but it's a matter of teaching -- teachers that general education teachers along with a special education teacher -- together says. Collectively. -- the supports to me that child's need and that's. But as I'm listening to -- dug in on -- -- -- your your children. May not be great in certain aspects but great in others I mean and that's kind of regular kids. Yes no question about it and Clinton passed the leak test on last year at the end of could a five year program to get four years of credit so he -- he calls himself perhaps sophomore pat -- Like at the end of algebra yet taken EOC which is a state end of course test. And he passed to pass by the same score that every -- a kid Astor passed by and he was able pass but the -- and the English he's always been. In a regular classroom. With extra help so it's been an inclusion settings. And and just like you said what is happened is he's now been with the same group kids. For about the last ten years so he's got a little insulated group. Of friends and even if not which would call best friends other kids who have just known him. For ten years who look out for him who helped him out and it it's a beautiful little network week. We have when the saint Tammany school system in week could not be in any way happier with the the support we've gotten from the school system and the results we got adequate. Kelly. Your son is in regular school. Yes and soul. Tell me about his -- it does he have to have the extra help yes not just a little different and it. Cognitively. He has lower functioning and so. He is not on a diploma track right now he's on what the cause it to a -- of completion. Which means he's going to school and he's working on skills but he's not working on. College prep level academic work. So he does require. Full time parent professional it to someone helps him connect with what the classes to mean. And helps him connect with what he should be doing. And he requires full service for everything says that care professional stays with him all day. To help accommodate. An and or his grades good. Yet he gets good grades not like school he likes. The tasks that are put before him and were integrate school where. I never walk through the house though without five kids saying I don't know -- And noted verbally he still is very and delayed language. Wise so. He's not gonna sing kinda act and created but the kids understand that -- a person and he's a classmate and so they go out of their way they know a bit. You know one of the common misperceptions about activism is that they don't want this social relationships and the reality is the desire to have those connections are there. Just for some moment I optimism that things that you have to do to make a friendship and maintain a friendship are harder for someone that isn't so. And we're in a wonderful situation and let the kids at the school. Our have all been trained that are educated on that so they just see you know as a classmate and and reach out to him by. He's a student. Obviously singing is this thing so he boasting no matter what the subject topic yeah. You mentioned as a sign. But that's OK I mean he he has his own strengths and weaknesses. I think the singing would make everybody happy thinking belted out and that -- -- And it doesn't seem happy they Seve -- it was Christmas and has a birthday. Thing I would call on every march -- missed on. It -- to -- ten. What does her social. Com you know she she has some some friends at school on the school has worked really hard. As part of -- -- to have her socializing with other kids. You know she is. Does does talk a lot. If she gets raised and he's in class -- she. Has she is also little Smart -- and classroom and I think that helps our -- long ways in the class but with some of the other students. She. Does she go to like sleepovers and no she doesn't of the -- and she's become at that age now she's self aware. You know and I how out of which -- I'm happy because it's that's the turning point. But at the same Tom it's sand because she is aware that she's not getting invited to birthday parties and she's not. She wants to have a sleep over by you know she doesn't have depends phone number to call and ask him to come sleep overs now. It is a little upsetting you know she has a problem. Will there always be. Extra help for these children. It's provided through the federal -- in education to provide supports for individuals with disabilities in the class -- And it's going more toward educating mr. Allen and the general education class -- With the appropriate support that that child needs to succeed and some of the supports that are and we support. Interventions that are. I'm pretty even with I restart and peer support. -- practice and schools for academic and first initial. And that's one of the things that you know sometimes schools on the money hire an extra person -- -- let's look at -- appears. And it's really at the research is also shown that it doesn't hurt the peers either they only pride to people teachers and not the teachers but the support. -- -- -- -- -- Dad and and I agree that a 100% and I would argue my daughter obviously has lived with my son and now my daughter is often. Sort of a warm warm for a different. Kids with autism that may be her age and I would argue that for kids who were fortunate enough to -- in schools with. Kids with the exception maladies and a kids with autism every kid I think that has been in contact with Quinn is better off. I think it I think my daughter is better off for having to deal with her brother because she sympathetic -- empathetic. In a different way then just had been. I hate to say it this way perfect little normal kid she sees kids that are grossly different than her and and again like you said over a period of time to quit just becomes one a normal kids and people make jokes within the next. They last Adam and a laugh with him and that's wage should be an outing every one's better off. I mean look when you get in the real world everyone's not exactly like Q you might as well get used to it when you're young. Dealing with been living with people who were grossly different and you and I think our key -- teach that. To the quote unquote normal kids. I think we learn from -- from the past managed to say we were kids. What do they put into it did to the kids with disabilities that -- them often -- -- I classroom and they didn't interact. And you had more bullying after the fact as people would make fun of them because they were different. And mail all the system I think is seen. That wasn't the right way of doing it and by integrating these kids into the classrooms and into the school and and forcing maybe even forcing relationships. I don't see the bullying that was always my biggest fear was some reasonable and I kid at school and she's not gonna pick up on it. And it's just the opposite I go to school and everybody goes under way to to tell hello and in siege you know and it's it's great. Stay with -- everyone will be right back. We are talking about autism and the -- spectrum of disorders and I think that's important thing here that it isn't one singular. Event or. Symptom it is a whole spectrum. And I'm just trying to remember when I was in school and was 1843. I don't remember I don't remember. Meaning any children like that any kids in and maybe it's because -- -- saying things they implement regular public school. Which was a loss -- and clearly hearing all these. Parents are enjoying the fact that you channels and regular school in. Has regular friends and meeting. Regular life experiences then that's that do you sense that your children are happy. Oh yeah I know she's -- I -- too big smile on her face and she she tells us she's happy and she's very outgoing lately and -- I'm a little scared go forward because she's the net pre pubescent years then and now things are gonna change in. And you know because she's become more self aware so you know we lot of autistic kids like the -- their hands when they get excited and I noticed when she's at school. She won't let herself flat -- And so. Which is great great turning point that same Tom. With a dozen of them missed the. The sincerity of it you know the we Oregon flapping her for years. -- -- hey he's a happy -- smiles but. Andy as the things. You know we always laugh because we know areas in the house. Is he thinking ire he wakes up Dana and I and I and I can see you. And then you just get used to that musical interrelated that. I think a lot of people there's. A misperception of their not because usually when you see similar doctors and you see him in a situation that's the most challenging -- -- receive -- mountain public. You see them engaged with people they don't know very well. An all those things can bring out the stress Fred Madden and make the more difficult and says you don't see. The relaxed happy person that they'd made to and B are there medications that help. -- clintons always been on medication. Says. Calm him down more than anything else did to make that. Social anxiety a little more bearable we'd actually reduce the medication. And now he's -- music and 170 pounds the medication -- is much better that we still give it to that. Yeah he's always taken he's always been on something if to to deal with the anxiety as much as. Possible that any work that is being done to to better understand what causes this. Is the ultimate goal that there will be something that could prevent it. I'm a lot of research is going on now into the and there are some people in the autism communities and adults with autism he sees that as an affront that people team. Weed them out a society like I have this boxes on and it is Cheney is enhance my life in this way and I don't want team. Some might prevent me from being born for example or something like that there's some tonight -- -- But I think the -- And looking into the calls boxes and -- doesn't mean some sort of genetic. Predisposition but it -- and Iran and some families and still not a strong component. -- markers that we look for. So it is it's interesting time now Andy -- -- optimism racers the public a lot of going into the cause and also a lot of treatments. And also going into -- they talked about higher education Alec once now that. K through twelve we've early intervention between that that's very important component -- twelve against some of the components and that are very important for education and in other children have been dying as such numbers aren't getting older. And also -- that the population that's under employed individuals who graduated with diplomacy -- have great skills. Apparently and it home and on jobs how can we really help. As individuals in the community get out get being members of two pounds and in -- things and adult man what support they need -- outside of school team. You know one of the great interviews I ever had in my life is with temple grant can't. -- matter right wrote to me you know consummate book on what it is and here she is a Ph.D. she's an inventor she's phenomenal. And and and lives well. So I always look to that and I'm sure that's went. All parents do that ultimately you just want your kid to be happening -- and productive in whatever they can do him. She's she's a hero I mean everybody I mean I hate to say it a lot of people didn't into the made that movie did know. Who temple was and deceit are both people and -- -- -- as an -- man. And does he and while that is part of the spectrum on the other part is is Temple Grandin. And so it gave a lot of parents. -- and hope for and something to strive for and showed autism in a batter and a different light in what everybody had been taught for years and years and years. It's right because of our optimism she had that strong interest in animals and was able to excel and that area and that's speaking to earlier just that. One area that intensely interested and to really build that into the future. While I can't thank you all enough I've learned a lot from all of the it is it is a very interesting subject it is. What we're hearing more -- more so we need to know more and more and you'll have been great examples to to help us thank you each and every one of you stay with us we'll be right back.