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New program is helping children with autism in Utah County

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Chris Bairdhttp://www.servedaily.com
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

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By Wendy Weaver
The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children in the U.S. has increased in the past decade. In Utah, the number of children diagnosed with autism is even higher than the national average. A staggering 1 in 54 Utah children are diagnosed and the need for autism services has never been more critical. These kids desperately need intense therapy at a very early age.

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That’s why, Kids Who Count, a non-profit organization serving families and children in South Utah County, decided to expand their services to include comprehensive autism treatment along with their early intervention services for children, birth to three years of age.

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“Since 1986, our early intervention program has helped thousands of young children with developmental delays and disabilities,” Kelsey Lewis, Kids Who Count Executive Director, said. “Now we’re ready to expand those services to include treatment for children on the autism spectrum.”

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Kids Who Count, located in Salem, Utah, would like to help more kids like Miles Jones who at 18 months wasn’t talking at all. He was missing most of his developmental milestones and his family was getting frantic. Fortunately, Miles was receiving early intervention at Kids Who Count and the timing couldn’t have been better. His early intervention providers referred him for further evaluation and he was diagnosed and able to get help quickly when his family became one of the first to start Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) through the brand new program: Autism Services at Kids Who Count.

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“Miles is responding so well to ABA therapy and continues to make such rapid progress,” Miles’ mother, Kohleen Jones, said. “We are so grateful that Kids Who Count was able to expand their services and start providing ABA therapy. There is such a great need in our community!”

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The need for autism treatment services is outpacing the number of providers in South Utah County, Lewis said. “It’s concerning to know young children are not getting the ABA therapy they so desperately need.”

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ABA therapy helps young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder increase their communication skills and decrease behaviors that are not beneficial to their life. It focuses on the fact that not being able to communicate is frustrating and kids will act out as a result. Hundreds of studies have shown that ABA therapy is also the best treatment to improve social skills, develop play skills, and teach self-care for children with autism.

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“Researchers have compared ABA to other programs and their results consistently show that children who receive ABA treatment make greater improvements in more skill areas than children who participate in other interventions,” Lewis said. “And, it’s also shown to significantly reduce the daily stress for parents of kids with autism.”

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“Early Intervention has been absolutely key for Miles and our family,” Jones said. “Miles started signing words and then moved on to speaking and is now able to form three- to four-word sentences. Miles has improved in how he interacts with his peers, and we learned skills on how to help Miles transition more smoothly from one activity to another. We even got help with teaching Miles to eat a meal using utensils.”

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kids who care

Sara Madsen, Board Certified Behavior Analyst with Kids Who Count, works with Calvin Hansen to develop hand and eye coordination at their facility in Salem.
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Kids Who Count now has a staff of highly trained behavior analysts and technicians who are experts in this subject and certified in providing ABA treatment, Lewis said. “They know what works and what doesn’t, and they are achieving pronounced results already.”

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Those results are being deeply felt by Miles and his family. “We are very optimistic that our whole family has a happy and bright future ahead of us,” Jones said.

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To contact Kids Who Count about autism services, visit their website at kidswhocount.org/autism, or call them at (801) 423-3000.

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