Wolfson Children's Hospital program helps kids with autism

The program is for kids 18 to 48-months-old

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A program at Wolfson Children's Hospital is helping parents tackle autism early. Child therapists are pushing early diagnosis and intervention, saying it can lead to a better life. 

The Early Autism Intervention Program is making a difference in the lives of many children. It's for kids 18 to 48-months-old. The interaction is play-based.

Three-year -old Ransom is growing and learning through this program. Ransom's mom first noticed the signs when he was 18-months-old.

"I started thinking, he wasn't communicating with me. He wasn't making great eye contact," said Ransom’s mother, Krista Fuchs.

Fuchs noticed an even bigger change in Ransom's behavior a few months later.

"He got excessively worse. Just screaming, hands over his ears, and he just regressed real bad," Fuchs said.

Fuchs decided to take him to Wolfson Children’s Hospital. A short time later he was diagnosed with autism.  

Through the hospital's Early Autism Intervention Program, his therapist, Courtney, is able to use play to engage him to speak, pay attention, imitate, and fine-tune his motor skills.

There are many more kids just like Ransom.

"About 1 in 68 kids today are diagnosed with autism," according Yvelisse Earle, speech language pathologist with the program.

Earle says tackling autism at an early age makes all the difference for the future. But parents have to be on the lookout.

Earle says, "Lack of eye contact. A child not responding to their name. Also attention problems," are some of the things parents should look for. Other early signs of autism are repetitive behavior, no babbling and the child not responding to his/her name.

She says something else parents need to do is keep up with their child’s well check appointments because pediatricians are very good at spotting early signs and behaviors consistent with autism.

With this early intervention and time with Courtney, Ransom's mom has noticed major progress over the last year.

"She made me very confident that he will lead a wonderful life and probably will be on the quirky side, which I'm cool with," said Fuchs.

To schedule an appointment for the program at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, call 904-202-1884. You can also fax the hospital at 904-202-3332.

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