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Help for autistic youth

April 27, 2011 - When Clarkston resident Melissa Rohn's 4-year-old son Lukas was diagnosed with autism a year ago, she was found herself in denial.

"I really went through a grieving process and then I had to let go of the anger, fear and worry and just move on," Melissa said.

The realization followed years of questions and frustration.

Melissa attended a picky-eating seminar offered through Clarkston Community Schools when Lukas was 13 months old, and also enrolled him in an Early On program through Oakland County.

When Lukas was 3, after receiving occupational and speech therapy through Clarkston's DOLLS and SPICE Program, Melissa agreed to have him examined by a specialist. In March 2010, test results showed Lukas had mild autism with hyperlexic features a fascination with printed words and letters.

Melissa's pediatrician referred her to Easter Seals' Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (P.L.A.Y.) Project, an intensive early intervention for children through age 8 diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.

"P.L.A.Y. is really pulling Lukas up the social ladder," Melissa said. "I can see him getting stronger as we fill in the gaps that were missing in his development."

Lukas, who did not talk until he was 3, now speaks in sentences, Melissa said.

P.L.A.Y. packets are available at the Living with Autism Workshop, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., April 28, Somerset Inn, Troy, during National Autism Awareness Month.

For more information about Easter Seals Michigan and its autism services, call 248-475-6300 or visit www.essmichigan.org.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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