April is Autism Awareness month. If the trends continue, autism could personally impact all of us.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,000 children under 10 years old in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have autism spectrum disorder.
Four-year-old Xavier White is one of them. He beams with delight when his little sister enters the room. The display of emotion is a milestone. Xavier is autistic and is in therapy five days a week at Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay in Tampa. His mother says the treatment has changed their lives.
"He's definitely more affectionate, which I love. He knows how to play with things appropriately. He can sit there and he can play with his sister now. He can have a tea party with her now, if that's what she wants," said Xavier's mother Elizabeth White, who describes her son's progress as tremendous.
BCOTB primarily focuses on children who have autism. According to the CDC, at least one in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder.
"The goal for us with our children is to help them to be more independent at home, in school, and in their community, " explained Jamie Granatino, BCOTB clinical director.
The center therapy known as "applied behavior analysis" to increase communication, social, and academic skills, as well as to reduce negative behaviors.
"With children, they learn naturally from play, so that's what we focus on with our clients: how to learn from play, from the natural environment," Granatino said.
Parent Ailyn Hemminger says the therapy has worked for her son Evan.
"The therapists here have become a family. They share and experience what parents do a lot of times in their own home," she said.
Xavier's dad is fighting the war in Afghanistan. Xavier is also a hero at home.
Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay has three locations: West Tampa, Wesley Chapel, and Brandon. New laws mandate some insurance plans to cover the cost of the therapy.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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