Occupational therapy helps one child in his battle with autism

An inside look at austism therapy

ABILENE, Texas - The number autism cases continues to increase, but fortunately so do the options for help.

Hendrick Rehabilitation Center has an extensive occupational therapy program that's helping this particular group's needs. Roughly ten percent of the kids that come for therapy have autism. The diagnosis is five times more common in boys than in girls.

Dana Alvarez's son Elijah is four year's old and was diagnosed just over a year ago. He comes to occupational therapy to work on a number of challenges  including his motor skills.

"He has something called spontaneous nystagmus and that's where his eyes will go {back and forth} for no apparent reason," said Occupational Therapist Christy Sparling.  If he sees something moving or if he moves a lot his eyes start moving and jumping."

This particular part of his disorder makes it hard for Elijah to focus. His challenges aren't always the same and  have changed since he began therapy.

"When we first started it was because he didn't like textured foods," said Alvarez. "He didn't like to get dirty. We've slowly gotten past that and now he's afraid of water."

Despite the hurdles Elijah experiences, Alvarez said therapy has been a success.

"It has helped tremendously," said Alvarez. "The other day at school they were like he ate Cheetos and they took pictures if him because he as all dirty. He was all orange all over his face. They were so excited because he didn't want a wet wipe."

In the Fall, Elijah is headed to kindergarten. When asked about his disorder, Alvarez said she wouldn't change a thing.

"Oh no. This is his personality," said Alvarez. "This is the way he is. If it wasn't for this, I don't know. He's just exciting. He's smart."

Hendrick Rehabilitation Center has a support group for parents who have children with Autism. They recommend getting early intervention to help with the effects of the disorder.

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