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Autism 911 to the Rescue

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You've heard of Nanny 911 ... now there's Autism 911 -- help for parents of autistic kids on how to control or modify problem behavior. Is this okay?


Mary Bilson is a mom on the edge.

She is the mother of three children -- 15, 13, and 6.

Her 13-year-old, Marissa, has autism, and frequently has loud, screaming tantrums.

According to Bilson, Marissa and her tantrums rule the household. "I don't want to hear her screaming and tantruming, so we pretty much let her do what she wants," Bilson says.

The family has tried various programs, starting when Marissa was a toddler -- but nothing completely worked for her. And as Marissa entered her teen years, her behavior grew worse. Mary knew that her daughter needed to be reined in, and it needed to be done now.

Enter Autism Partnership, or AP. This group, founded in 1994, offers extensive therapeutic services to children and adults with the disorder. One of its most unique programs is an intensive one-on-one, at-home intervention service that is similar in scope to what happens on the television show "Nanny 911." It's not cheap -- about $2,500 per day, typically for a five-day period (with additional days on an "as needed" basis).

Most of AP's work is grounded in a behavior modification technique known as Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA. Essentially, the method breaks down behavior patterns, rewarding proper behavior while being careful not to encourage improper responses.

And that is exactly how AP therapist Rick Schroeder hopes to reshape Marissa Bilson's worst behavior. The group, which met Marissa while working in her school, offered the Bilson family a free week-long intervention with the proviso that CNN be allowed to record the process.

The week started off with a day of observation -- a day with lots and lots of screaming and tantrums, that left Schroeder stunned. He had observed Marissa at school where, he says, she was much less demonstrative.

But Schroeder is still eager and ready to tackle the challenge.

"I think the family is starting to realize something needs to change, and that's very good," he says after his day of observation. "As far as Marissa's behavior goes -- and the level that she is capable of going to -- she's pretty much out of control, for sure."

You can follow the Bilson's progress on CNN American Morning 6 AM to 9 AM through February 4.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley February 4, 2009, 7:38 AM

My neighbor, who is one of my best friends, has a nine year old son who is autistic. He hums and throws giant fits. Right now, she is working on controlling him through his diet. She has completely cut out gluten. She doesn’t have him in school because when she did he regressed. She does have a tutor that comes to see him. She is aboslutely amazing with him and I have seen an improvement since he started the diet, he’s using more words. I am sure she would love to have someone come to her house and help but $2500/day is absolutely ridiculous!! She is a single mom. Nice idea though.

NadineClark26 August 22, 2010, 10:29 PM

I received my first loans when I was a teenager and it supported my business a lot. However, I need the short term loan also.

Tente  February 12, 2011, 8:49 PM

There are certainly a couple more details to take into consideration, but thank you for sharing this information.

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