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Woman helps families deal with autism

CHARLESTON -- The number of kids with autism is changing and this mom is seeing it right in her own community.
CHARLESTON -- The number of kids with autism is changing and this mom is seeing it right in her own community. More people are being diagnosed with autism. The CDC released new numbers showing, in some states, one in every 68 children has it.

"There's going to be more of them than us," says Julia Boyd.

It's a disorder which is still keeping researchers in the dark. However, one woman is trying to be that beam of light for families struggling with an autism diagnosis.

"Chaotic, traumatic, beautiful, sometimes scary, not knowing what to do," says Julia Boyd.

She says those are the feelings she went through when her son, Jacob, was diagnosed autistic.

"When he was 15 months old, he started, no eye contact, no contact. Trying to get out of the car, to get into the house was a struggle. He was taking his clothes off all the time, he was biting the window sills. You just couldn't control him a lot," says Boyd.

To get through it, she found others in Coles County with those same stories and gave their kids a place to grow wings.

"What we do here is a lot of lines and patterning. It's really good for their bodies physically. We know that it also helps remap their brain and just helps them express themselves, helps them come into their own. And a place to belong," says Boyd.

It's a way to deal with a disorder the world still doesn't know much about. Linda Tortorelli coordinates the Autism Program at the University of Illinois.

"We certainly have more people being diagnosed with autism but are there more people with autism than we have had in the past. That's a question that remains to be answered," says Tortorelli.

Researchers are still trying to figure out how much of the disorder is environmental versus genetic. Each kid in the Dragonflies Class is on a different part of the spectrum. For example, Jacob can't speak.

"I think there's chemical, environmental, emotional all of these things together," says Boyd.

While parents know autism isn't going away, every bit of progress helps.

"Some people think it's a burden. I think it's a blessing. My dream is that he can do whatever he can to enhance his life," says Boyd.

The CU Network Autism Walk, at Hessel Park, is April 27, Noon - 3 pm.
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