This week on Utah NOW we'll look at the story of one Utah family's struggle with autism. Leeann Whiffen will be our guest. She'll join us to discuss her fight to find the treatment that would make the difference for her son. The book she wrote about the experience is called "A Child's Journey Out of Autism."
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD's): Autism spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders currently defined by significant qualitative impairments in 3 developmental domains:
For reasons that are not yet understood, abnormalities in these 3 developmental domains tend to cluster together in affected individuals. All individuals with autism-spectrum disorders have behavioral evidence of qualitative abnormalities of social development in combination with qualitative abnormalities of communication and/or stereotyped repetitive interests and behaviors. (click here for DSM-IV criteria for autism) (Source: American: 2000.) What comes naturally to most children about socially relating to others, does not come naturally to children with autism-spectrum disorders.
Many individuals with autism and PDD-NOS also have developmental delays. Because developmental delays are not found in all individuals with these disorders, developmental delay is not required for a diagnosis of autism-spectrum disorders.
Affected individuals may have a variety of other cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems. Because these associated problems are not present in all affected individuals, they are not part of the criteria for autism-spectrum disorders, though they occur frequently and are very important to recognize and treat. [Source: http://www.autismcouncilofutah.org/whatisautism.htm]
For more information on Leeann Whiffen, her book "A Child's Journey Out of Autism" or information on understanding autism, please click on the following links:
Leeann Whiffen grew up on a cattle ranch in a small Idaho town. She has served on the boards of local autism organizations, and provided voluntary assistance in consulting with hundreds of families facing autism throughout the U.S. She organized and distributed an autism resource guide for every pediatrician and early intervention agency throughout the state of Utah to promote early detection and treatment for children. She's presented at autism conferences and has been a featured guest on radio and TV stations to provide greater awareness and understanding of autism spectrum disorders and related treatment methods.
Leeann is co-author of the Early Intervention Fast Start Checklist developed for the Autism Council of Utah (ACU), and was awarded "Outstanding Individual of the Year" by the ACU. She is the co-founder of the Utah Autism Coalition, and the Autism Speaks Utah Chapter Advocacy Co-Chair. She is currently working with legislators to provide help for treating children with autism. She continues providing comfort and guidance to families facing autism-both independently and as a Generation Rescue Angel. Leeann currently lives in Utah with her husband and three sons.
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