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

d, Kara is considered to be on the developmental level of an 18-month-old. "She's now kind of diagnosed on the more severe part of the spectrum," Wismann said, noting that her daughter has to use an adult stroller when out in public places. "The sensory overload of trying to walk herself through someplace like a store overwhelms her."

Kara is nonverbal and does not respond to sign language. She communicates by reaching her hand toward something she needs, but even that is just fleeting.

"Everybody who is in Kara's world has pretty much had to come in touch with their sixth sense, to intuitively figure out what she might need," Wismann said.

And Kara's condition has put a strain on the whole family, she added. Wismann said she's had to work hard to make sure Kara's younger brother, Harley, gets his share of attention. A year younger than Kara, Harley is a bright and healthy youngster, his mother said.

"He's had to learn how to adapt," Wismann said. "He's learned that if we go somewhere and Kara has a fall-out or a meltdown, he knows he has to drop whatever he's doing so we can leave." Harley's also learned to be more independent and to take care of himself if his parents have to rush Kara for treatment or give her more attention.

Kara now attends a special needs school that's using applied behavioral analysis as its teaching method for Kara. The aim of this type of therapy is to teach useful skills that build upon each other. Wismann said she is also considering trying another form of therapy, called relationship development intervention, which tries to gradually and systematically develop the tools and motivation for social interaction.

"After all these years, I think I've finally come to terms with who she is," Wismann said. "I guess I have accepted it. Before then, it was just push, push, push to try and find a way to stop her downward spiral."

"I'm still waiting for her to say 'momma,'" Wismann said. "She'll mouth the wor
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