Autism: Meeting the Challege - Part Two

Finding the right school for a child can be a challenge, but if your child is autistic, it can be an uphill battle.

Some autistic children may need assistance in almost every aspect of daily life.

However, others may be able to function and attend school in regular classrooms. In either case, it's often up to the parents to become an advocate for their child.

Chaz and Colt may appear like normal siblings, but when Chaz was about 1-years-old, his mother Cari noticed there was something different about him.

After lots of research on her own, and searching for the right doctor, Chaz was diagnosed with autism. “People hardly talked about it,” she said. “There was no support at all.”

Cari became a staunch advocate for her child, visiting schools, talking to doctors and making sure Chaz got the services he needs. She says, “I didn't know how he'd do in public school.”

But Chaz does attend public school. He makes good grades, plays in the band and participates in sports.

“Had I not been there, [I] don't know how he would have done,” Cari says.

Cari admits, the road has been a long one, but Kelly Turner and Chris Christensen want to change that. The two have formed a partnership and plan to open Ace Academy, which stands for All Children Are Exceptional. It will be a private not-for-profit school for exceptional children.

The school will provide a 1-3 teacher student ratio, which is something critical for special needs children like those with autism.

The school would include occupational therapy, speech therapy, behavioral therapy and even family counseling.

For more information about Ace Academy you can call 677-6360.

There are many different theories for the sudden rise in autism, some of which are controversial.

Some research shows it's a result of mercury poisoning from immunizations while other medical professionals say it's environmental or even a result of better diagnostic tools. It will no doubt be debated for years to come.