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Living With a Child With Autism
Date:5/27/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Julie Wismann knew her young daughter was troubled.

The girl had been diagnosed with epilepsy at age 1 and put on medication, said Wismann, 34, of Centennial, Colo. But then the youngster, Kara Reno, began losing her words.

"At first we thought it was a speech impediment of some sort," her mother said of Kara. "She went from saying 50 words to no words. She was basically becoming developmentally disabled with words. She wasn't accruing as many words as she should have at that point, and the words she did have weren't forming well. It took people who knew her to understand what she was saying."

There were other worrying signs of behavior. For extended periods, Wismann said, Kara would put her hand in front of her face and watch it move back and forth. She wouldn't interact with kids her age. She didn't play-act with her Barbie dolls, instead just holding them in front of her face and looking at them.

At age 2½, doctors diagnosed Kara with autism.

Wismann said she had a hard time accepting the diagnosis. "I was in denial for four years, maybe," she said. "It was extremely worrisome."

She took Kara to a behavioral therapist and a communication therapist. She tried homeopathic remedies. She even considered taking the girl to chelation therapy, which involves injecting a chemical into the body and has been rumored to help children with autism. "I was going to try chelation at one point, but then I heard some other kids with autism died because it wasn't performed correctly," she said.

The only thing she said she's found that helps her get through to Kara is music therapy. "She just engages more," Wismann said. "Instead of being in her own space, if you're more singsong-y when you're interacting with her, she seems to engage more and want to be interactive with you."

Now 10 years ol
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