At the age of 2, Jake Exkorn's parents were told their son had autism. But two years later, Jake had fully recovered from autism. His mother, Karen Siff Exkorn, credits an intensive form of therapy called Applied Behavior Analysis for the dramatic turnaround.
Almost immediately after diagnosis, Jake started 40 hours a week of grueling one-on-one therapy. ABA is expensive but called the "gold standard" of therapy for kids with autism. Still, only a small percentage of kids "recover" from an autism diagnosis, even with ABA therapy.
Based on her experience, Siff Exkorn has put together an exhaustive book on autism called, "The Autism Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Know About Diagnosis, Treatment, Coping, and Healing."
You can read an excerpt below.
For more information on autism, click here to visit www.autismspeaks.org.
At his second birthday party, we found our son, Jake, lying facedown in the driveway, his cheek pressed into the gravel. He did not look at us or talk to us. It was as if we -- his own mother and father -- were not there.
Two weeks later, Jake was diagnosed with autism.
In the first seventeen months of his life, Jake hit every developmental milestone: he crawled, he walked, and he talked. He was within the age-appropriate weight and height percentiles. By all accounts, he was a typical child. And then, over a six month period, Franklin and I watched as our once active and talkative toddler gradually developed into a lethargic and silent little boy. It was as if, one by one, all of the circuit breakers in his brain were clicking off.
Something was affecting Jake's overall development. His coordination was off. He couldn't keep his balance while running or going down the slide. His behavior changed. Jake no longer showed any interest in playing with other children -- he hardly even played with his toys. Apart from turning light switches on and off and opening and closing all the doors in the house, his favorite activity was lying on the floor and staring. He also began to have full-blown, horrific tantrums that looked and sounded like nothing I'd ever seen -- complete with shrieking and sobbing that caused him to hyperventilate. But aside from the tantrums, Jake was quiet. And honestly, I think what disturbed us the most was his silence. Our house used to be filled with the sounds of his laughter and his raspy, little voice. But the house became so much quieter as Jake's vocabulary dwindled to only a few words. Then, shortly after his second birthday, Jake stopped speaking entirely.