Family Praises Early Autism Intervention for Son's Success

Dallas family hopes others know there is nothing "sad" about getting that diagnosis and early intervention is key

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For families of children with autism, daily life can look different.

Parents work around the clock to make sure their autistic child is embraced and getting the support he or she needs to thrive.

Each milestone is a reason to celebrate what the Chrissey family of Dallas has experienced.

Hugh Chrissey, 4, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2.5 years old after becoming a patient at Children’s Health.

Hugh’s parents Afton and Alden Chrissey said when he started treatment, he was completely nonverbal, didn't respond to his own name and didn't enjoy playing with toys.

"You make plans for what your kid's life is going to look like before they're ever even born and you have all these expectations, and kind of the not knowing now what to expect is a big adjustment," said Afton.

Hugh’s parents found resources at Children's Health's Applied Behavioral Analysis Clinic.

Treatment started virtual, but as COVID-19 restrictions eased, Hugh was fully immersed in therapy to help in communication, social, verbal and motor skills.

After a year and a half, Hugh’s engaging in imaginative play and loves talking to everyone and telling them about his favorite things.

"I feel like a lot of times people think, 'Oh he's a kid on the spectrum. He's got sensory issues,'" said Afton. "We want people to understand that they're all totally different and to not assume he's a child on the spectrum. He's his own individual, he has his own thoughts and feelings, he's Hugh!"

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism Spectrum Disorder affects about 1 in 44 children in the United States.

April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about ASD, advocate for, and empower those who are impacted by it.

ASD is a developmental disorder that can cause difficulties with communication, social, verbal and motor skills.

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