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Could There Be a Cure for Autism?

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LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — One in 88 children in the United States will be diagnosed with some form of autism.

Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls.

Discovering that your child has an autism spectrum disorder can be an overwhelming experience,  but a local therapy center has proven results.

Here now is one local boy, who was diagnosed with autism and is now recovered.

Ethan was 2 years old when his parents noticed something was off.

“He did a lot of repetitive actions. Very strange behaviors like lining up things, always like three,” said mother Rebecca Ishida.

“And then if you touched any of his trains his eruptions were crazy. These tantrums were out of control,” she said.

Ethan’s parents took intensive action. After working with several different agencies, they found the center for autism related disorders or  “CARD” in Tarzana.

There, Ethan went through 40 to 40 hours a week of intensive applied behavior analysis or “ABA.”

“It’s intensive one-on-one teaching when what we do is a comprehensive assessment of exactly what skills are delayed, and we teach those skills really intensively,” explained Jonathan Tarbox, PhD.

“Lots of practice and lots of positive reinforcement,” he said.

The nearly 40 hours a week went on for four years. The therapist Ethan worked with was certain he would recover.

“She made a prediction. She made a prediction in that meeting. She said in four years, Ethan will be cured basically. Almost to the day,” said Wes Gorin, Ethan’s father.

But it was a harrowing ordeal.

“It’s a fight the whole time. Every penny. I mean, we lost our house treating this, you know?” Gorin revealed.

And though they lost their home, they gained their child back.

Ethan is now 10 and has lost his diagnosis of autism, all because of receiving ABA therapy.

Ethan had just got his report card back on the day that we sat down with him.

“I got very good scores and I ace’d most of my test, tests,” he said. “My teacher said that I worked to my full potential and that’s good.”

“It feels like a miracle , it looks like a miracle but its been happening for a few decades now,” Dr. Tarbox remarked.

For 20 years, CARD has helped thousands of children recover from autism..

But only 10 percent of children diagnosed with autism get the top quality ABA therapy that Ethan did.

“The sad reality is that in many regions in the United States, ABA is still inaccessible except to the middle and upper class,” Dr. Tarbox explained.

“You could be looking at $50-100,000 a year for three or four years,” he said.

Ethan is now just a typical kid, living without autism.

“It’s so worth it to see him smiling and having friends and playing basketball and just doing typical things,” his dad said.

He’s a kid in L.A. with typical L.A. dreams.

“I want to be an actor. I want to… if that doesn’t work out, maybe I could be, I could be, I don’t know…” Ethan says.

For more information on ABA and insurance issues check out these links:

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  • readysteadystop

    I wrote a long comment, as an autistic adult, explaining why there is no cure and why this child must not have been truly autistic in the first place if he is now "living without autism", but KTLA deleted it immediately upon my posting it. It contained no foul language or terms of service violations. I'd like to know why I was censored so quickly and why opposing information, correcting poorly researched reporting and irresponsible journalism is not being allowed to be seen?

    • katepetes888

      I'm sorry that you feel that way about the opportunities for children with autism. I don't know why KTLA would delete your argument, but I do want to clarify that this was not a poorly researched article. Nothing stated in the article is false, they are not claiming that every child with Autism can recover, but research HAS shown that children with autism can recover from their diagnosis and not just because they were misdiagnosed. There has been a great deal of research done on this subject over the past 20 years, with an ever increasing focus on ABA therapy. ABA is recognized and supported by the CDC among other government agencies and it is now mandatory for insurance companies to cover ABA because even THEY can't avoid the fact that ABA greatly improves the skill set and challenges children with autism face and in some cases, even results in the full recovery or a child from autism. There is a lot of information and scientific research out there about ABA and the unfortunately not that many people are educated about it or have access to it. Here are a few links, the first is to an article about the most recent research on autism (there are many others, but only providing you with the most recent). The second, is a link to the actual research article itself, because you are right that you can't always trust the news to report the facts. Lastly is the link to the CDC website where it discusses ABA.

      • readysteadystop

        ABA _can_ improve skillsets, but it's not guarantee. The term "recovery" indicates autism is a disease, when it is not. I am more than familiar with the studies you've linked to, as an adult with autism. It is extremely rare for an autism diagnosis to be reversed and even medical experts admit that those children likely did not have autism in the first place.

      • Milwauken

        "Nothing stated in the article is false, they are not claiming that every child with Autism (sic) can recover, but research HAS shown that children with autism can recover from their diagnosis and not just because they were misdiagnosed."

        How do you define "recovery" from autism? And what research shows recovery is possible?

        The story contains one demonstrably false statement, and it's found in the lead paragraph: "One in 88 children in the United States will be diagnosed with some form of autism."

        This is pure conjecture. One out of five children identified with autism in the latest CDC survey had no known autism diagnosis. The ratio of autism "diagnosis" is closer to 1:113. This is not nitpicking, as the CDC survey speaks to a large undiagnosed population of children with autism. If you accept that premise, then you can understand why increased diagnoses is a good thing, as opposed to a epidemic.

        Please do not delete this comment.

  • readysteadystop

    Here's REAL journalism about ABA and how there isn't a cure; it is VERY rare that a child has their actual autism diagnosis reversed through the efforts of ABA therapy. Others are mostly just deemed to have not been autistic in the first place. Autism isn't a disease. It can't be reversed, cured, or recovered from. Stop giving people false hope and stop insulting those of us who know better, because we live with it.

    • v

      I agree the phrase cured is false. I have a son with asd. Anyone who is truly educated on the manner should know ABA only treats the behavioral issues. There is so much more to treat on spectrum. So much more! This will get deleted also. Please anyone with a child with asd fight! for resourcs for your child. Never take no for an answer.

      • katepetes888

        Anyone who is truly educated on ABA knows that ABA is not just about treating behavioral "issues" and that most quality ABA services providers, managing behavior "issues" is usually about one tenth of what is done with ABA treatment. The remaining 90% is all skill building and teaching students using structured curriculums. Its true that there are a lot of ABA agencies out there that don't provide high quality ABA, but if you go to a good one, you will learn what ABA can actually do.

  • sonia36

    $50,000.00 to a 100,000.00 a YEAR??? Who can afford that?

    Way to make a mom feel horrible. Waiting all day to watch the news in hopes that there is a CURE, to find out only rich people can get there child help. Shame on the news
    These are kids- that need help – the help should be affordable to ALL.

    • katepetes888

      It is totally crazy! Luckily most states are pushing through laws that insurance companies HAVE to pay for it, because they finally can't argue the fact that it helps kids and technically saves money in the long run if your child can learn skills to live a more independent life as an adult. California has insurance laws now, so talk to your insurance company and see if they cover it.

  • Calimom78

    ABA therapy is helpful, but CARD was the most incompetent agency we had the displeasure of using. They are all about the public relations and not about the kids.

  • PJ

    As an ABA therapist and teacher of over 20 years, I can tell you that ABA therapy can make a tremendous difference in the life of a child with autism. I have to agree, though, that to lose a diagnosis is rare. ABA therapy is becoming more accessible. In my state insurance companies are required to pay for ABA for children through age 6. Medicaid is not far behind. In my program we use ABA in everything that we do, even to teach social skills. This epidemic is far reaching and so much more is needed. ABA is the most evidence based practice for treating children with autism.

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