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Family thanks local resources for helping Autistic son

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Tuesday marks Autism Awareness Day. The neurological disorder is the fastest growing developmental disability. NEWSChannel2 met with a local family who's son has been diagnosed with Autism but has been making major improvements at The Kelberman Center in Utica.

Nichole Raymo's 4 year old son Xander was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2 and a half years old, however Nichole says he didn't show the typical early signs of the disorder.

"He was talking, was potty trained, playing normally," said Raymo. "It wasn't until he was about 2 and a half that he had regressed. In a very short time period everything just was gone."

Raymo says her son Xander stopped talking and began losing skills he had learned.  The regression is just one way children show signs of Autism.

"You know I was terrified when my son was diagnosed and I was terrified to get a diagnosis and I didn't want him labeled but there's so much help out there," said Raymo.

Xander has since been coming to The Kelberman Center's Promise Program in Utica.  It gives individualized attention to kids with Autism and similar developmental delays while they're young.

"There's concrete evidence to show that this is not just a child being willful or refusing to speak in some cases, these are neurological deficits that are there but they can be treated with educational and therapeutic interventions," said Dr. Jean Jacobson, Director of Early Childhood Autism Services at The Kelberman Center.

Nichole thrilled with how much her son has learned in just months.

"He makes eye contact now, he plays better, he interacts more, his speech has come such a long way... in three months here he has come so far, has made so many improvements and I am so excited for him in the future," said Raymo.

Dr. Jacobson says some early signs of Autism parents should look for in their kids include
- lack of free speech by 2 years old.
- children making poor eye contact -- especially with the caregiver.
- and lack of typical social development or typical play.

More Autism resources can be found at http://www.kelbermancenter.org/ and http://www.autismspeaks.org/

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