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HEALTHWATCH: Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart Autism Center

ESCAMBIA COUNTY  -- One in 68 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
According to the Centers for Disease Control.

That's a 30-percent increase from two years ago.
Some professionals say the rise could be because the disorder has become more detectable in recent years.

The Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart has an Autism Center to help children learn to live with the disorder.
   
An inside look at how the center is changing lives
"Four and three year old will and Sophia are a little different from your average toddler. Both, have Autism but in different spectrums coming to therapy is helping them progress in their social development."
   
When will Owens was 20-months old when his mother rushed him to the emergency room for an ear infection.
   
But, the doctor on call gave the family a bigger diagnosis.
Angela Owens  "He said did your pediatrician mention to you Will has Autism? And I said no he has an ear infection. What do you mean?"
   
Up until that point  Will's mother said he had hit every miles stone.
But she had noticed a difference.  Will did stop talking and making eye contact.
   
He was diagnosed with Regressive Autism.
8 months later his little sister Sophia was also diagnosed with Autism .

Angela Owens "She didn't cry a lot, she didn't pay that much attention, and she didn't like to be held that much."
     
It's difficult to diagnose autism.. there is no medical test.
Many different factors make a child more likely to have Autism  like environmental, biologic and genetic factors.
   
Sacred Hearts Autism Center helps children progress developmentally by using applied Behavior Analysis Therapy.

Debra Keremes 1:03:37 " We want them to do it in a natural environment because although we can teach them skills at a table. If they are not going to use it functionally then it doesn't have the impact."
   
Will and Sophia became the first kids in the state to receive Medicaid for the ABA treatment.
   
The two have different variations of the disorder.
Will has memorized nearly 400 TV shows and communicates by repeating what he's memorized.
Angela Owens "If he wants something like we were at the grocery store and he said, 'What's today's mystery mousetool.' and I said I don't know what is it? And he said a pillow. It was a pillow with stars on it. He wanted the pillow."
   
Sophia doesn't speak instead she's uses sign language.
Angela Owens "The difference in the almost two years that we've been here is drastic in the way they function in the way they act."

"If we don't get to them early sometimes they don't develop it. Every thing builds on everything else, so if we can teach them new skills it can impact every level of their life."

"If you think your child might have Autism you should contact your physician."
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