Albany Autism Center wants to complete the puzzle -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany Autism Center wants to complete the puzzle

May 20, 2008

Albany--  The numbers are staggering. In 1990, it was estimated that one child out of 1,000 was diagnosed with autism. Now that number is one out of 150.

The neurological disorder affects reasoning, social interaction and communication. More families are looking for ways to cope and help their children develop.   Now, Dougherty County families don't have to go very far.

At the Albany Autism Center, 4-year-old Cooper jumps up and down on the trampoline.  

"Good jumping," says Kowana McKinney as she assists him.

It looks like playtime for Cooper but it's actually therapy for autism. Therapist Kowana McKinney has to keep up because she's stepping in.

"Early intervention is the number one key," said McKinney.

She's one of several people behind The Albany Autism Center. "We offer occupational speech and applied behavior analysis therapy," said Center Director Diane Blocker.

The center just opened in January to help families dealing with the disorder. Statistics show that 67 children are diagnosed everyday. "It's estimated through local non-profits that there are over 1,000 children in Dougherty County that either have a diagnosis or show signs of autism," said Blocker.

One of those children was Blocker's motivation. "The progress I saw in my own child is what made me open the Autism Center," said Blocker.

A staff of therapists and teachers now help children with the skills they need to live independently. "We're just trying to get that child to be the best that they can be," said Blocker.

The road to that goal isn't always smooth though. "There are milestones but we celebrate all the milestones," said McKinney.

That's why it takes a lot of patience and smiles to make living with an unpredictable disorder a little easier.

Parents pay an enrollment fee but the Albany Autism Center depends on donations and the community to fully operate. For information on how you can help or if you need help, call 229-883-6288.



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