Stories From Main Street: Yonkers Mom Tries To Help Others After Son’s Autism Recovery
YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - An unusual and wonderful development for one Yonkers mother has led to her to try and seek out other mothers who need the help she didn’t have.
When Betty Davidson’s twins were two-and-a-half, she noticed one of them wasn’t developing like the other.
“We got the very devastating diagnosis that he had autism,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
He was severely affected.
“My son tested below the bottom percentile across every single domain,” she said. “Cognition, language, communication, play, social skills, leisure skills, adaptive skills, visual performance skills.”
What happened next was highly unusual.
“Within three years, my son was a documented case of full recovery from autism,” she said. “Not a child with autism who’s doing well. He didn’t quality for autism anymore. He was so far off it.”
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Nurse practitioner Maureen Harden evaluated Davidson’s son at Columbia University’s autism program.
“Children who are provided intensive intervention at a very early age and that involve parents and experts really tend to do better,” she said. “Certainly, her son’s experience is unusual… What we do know is that with the right type of intervention, children can improve.”
Davidson said nobody gives you a guidebook for how to deal with autism. So, she wrote her own.
She stopped practicing law, immersed herself in the subject, and created a web-based teaching program called Apex Spectrum, based on the principles of applied behavior analysis.
LINK: Apex Spectrum
For instance, one lesson has pictures of animals.
“You can teach receptive language of animals. ‘Point to the dog.’ You can teach labeling. ‘What is that?'” she told Adams. “You can teach concept development. ‘Point to the one that barks.’ ‘Point to the animal.’ ‘Point to the one with a tail.'”
There is a word of caution from Autism Speaks‘ Senior Vice President for Scientific Affairs, Andy Shih.
He said they would like to see this and other autism teaching tools tested and evaluated.
“The idea of having researchers evaulating them in a rigorous study,” he said.
“I would never be so cavalier as to say ‘Oh, if you do what I do, then your child will recover too.’ I don’t even think that. What I feel very strongly about is that all children with autism can do better,” Davidson said.