Special Education

Curing Autism?

By Christina A. Samuels — November 18, 2008 1 min read

After years of intensive therapy, Jayne Lytel believes that her son, Leo, 9, has behaviors indistinguishable from his typically developing peers -- even though he was diagnosed with autism at age 2.

Lytel uses her situation as the basis of an article in the Washington Post about whether autism can actually be cured. Her son is now part of a research study that is examining 35 children and teens who appear to no longer have the outward signs of autism.

In addition to talking about her own experiences, Lytel is careful to note that the jury is still out on the prospects of recovery. She is, however, a strong proponent of early intervention, and has written a book on the topic, Act Early Against Autism. You can see a snapshot of the kind of work Lytel did with her son in this excerpt.

Lytel and Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, an autism expert and the director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, also talked about the article and other issues related to autism in an online chat, also available at the Post website. And Lytel has her own blog, available here.

Her blog describes what the Post article only hinted at: the toll that all these interventions took on Lytel’s life. She put aside her career, became isolated from her friends and family, declared bankruptcy, and divorced.

From her blog: “While I got my son back, it came at great sacrifice. I have no regrets, but I wouldn’t want to do it again. I crusade on behalf of early intervention, because it saves lives.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.