The Autistic Answer? - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

The Autistic Answer?

Reporter: Dana Palley

Autism in kids is now more common than childhood cancer, cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome. And parents are always looking for ways to help their children cope.

Now, they are finding hope through hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Fox 29's Dana Palley shows us how this treatment has changed many lives.

Four-year-old Aiden Lombardi has struggled to fit into the world since he was 2 years old. With traits of autism, his family turned to hyperbaric oxygen therapy to try to get him to improve his speech, behavior and learning ability.

Research studies have shown the pure oxygen can take pressure off the brain and increase the blood flow to the brain in autistic kids.

Jim Grant, Aiden's grandfather, says, "The more treatments he has, the better he gets. When he was 2 years old, we couldn't even touch him."

As parents look for ways to help their autistic kids cope, the hyperbaric oxygen chamber is one type of therapy which can be used in combination with diet, medication and behavioral modification to help these kids.

The kids spent an hour in the chamber and keep entertained with a movie. The clinic says a minimum of 20 sessions is necessary to see improvement.

Hope Fine, clinical director, explains, "Results are amazing. Children that have never spoke a word before will start to speak. So the word is getting out parent to parent."

The use of hyperbaric chambers to treat autistic kids is still considered an alternative. But those who have seen the results are fighting for FDA  approval.

Jim Grant thinks more attention should be paid to make people more aware of the rapidly increasing amount of children diagnosed with the autism. "We have a long way to go. This is not an easy trail; this is part of the answer."

For families dealing with autistic kids, the South Florida Center for H.O.P.E. is giving them hope that someday their children will be able lead somewhat of a normal life.

Aidan's family says he's turning 5 in just 11 days and is doing much better. In fact, his speech has improved, and he's able to have more eye contact with them. Still, they want to make it clear that they think the hyperbaric therapy has helped him, but only because they are also using traditional treatments at the same time.

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