CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Parents of children with autism are turning to centers offering early diagnosis for better treatment.
Bella Eisenhard was a toddler when her mother, Kimberly Butz, noticed she was not hitting her milestones.
"At about, like, age 2 1/2, I'm like, 'She's supposed to be saying sentences,' and I asked the doctor and she said, 'Don't worry, she'll grow into it,'" Butz said.
Her mother's intuition proved correct when Bella was later diagnosed with autism. Bella's parents said public school-based programs were failing to provide the support she needed, so they enrolled her full time with a center focused on applied behavioral analysis.
Often described as the "gold standard" for autism, ABA is focused on prompting and reinforcing new behaviors and skills.
"It's very quick and fast-paced, and we start with the behaviors that are easy to do, so we work on them comprehending the instruction and following through," Victoria Sanchez, director of the ABA program Therapies4Kids, said.
Bella's parents said the program has helped their daughter with communication and attention skills.
"We're able, as parents, now to actually take care of our child," Butz said.
In Central Florida, dozens of centers offer ABA therapy. Here is a county-by-county list:
Aponte & Klein Inc. (AK Behavioral Health Clinic)
Outreach autism Services Network (OASN) Inc.
For more information about what resources are available statewide, visit the Florida Autism Center's website.