« Washington State Sued Over Special Education Services in Religious Schools | Main | Mental Health Services for Children Lacking »

Curing Autism?


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."


What Jayne Lytel did for Leo is exactly what I am doing for my son Bailey. Bailey was diagnosis a year ago when he was five years old. Since March he has been receiving ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy from the school district we live in and this month he started receiving it from the Department of Developmental Disabilities in CA. I am reading a book by Dr. Greenspan, the founder of Floortime therapy, in hopes to implement that therapy myself. Bailey too receives additional speech and occupational therapy. I broke my teaching contract last February so I could stay home to coordinate all of his therapies. It was extremely difficult to do this because I had done some incredible things during my 12 years of teaching in four states and six school districts. Also I had to leave my dream job that I had always wanted as well as leave the small town my husband and I had dreamed of living in for years. I did all of this in hopes someday Bailey will be like Leo. I have a feeling he could be because we have seen incredible advances made in his speech and social interactions since he started ABA. He definitely is still autistic but today I feel his future is brighter than I thought it was a year ago.

Jayne Lytel's article about curing her son's autism was enthralling. Although the interventions she used were time consuming and difficult, they were undoubtedly worth it. As a student currently studying to be an early intervention specialist, I completely agree with Lytel that therapy and intervention needs to start as early as possible. I believe every child has the capacity to "get better", as I have seen it with my own eyes while working with autistic students. When I enter the workforce, I look forward to doing everything in my power to make recovery a reality for more families.

I, too, agree that early intervention is critical. Unfortunately, in our current RtI world, services are delayed as individuals empowered with professional decision-making capabilities argue 'stigma'. I hold with those who favor false positives, and argue 'research'.

I am a college student studying to be an intervention specialist and I feel that there is a huge importance in giving children diagnosed with autism the benefit of early intervention. When children are exposed to early interventions they can make huge strides of improvement. I have worked with many students with autism and the benefits of routine, diet, speech, OT/PT, and many other programs are priceless.

I am also a student studying to be an intervention specialist. I agree that early intervention is the key to any and all exceptionalities. I also think that the parents play a big role too. They need to understand their rights and help give their child the best choices and education possible. That is why teachers are so important. We need to help the parents because they are all new at this, and this is what we are trained to do.

This is so interesting! I am a student studying art education, but I work with students with autism once a week as part of my student teaching. They all have severe autism and do not speak. When my students were growing up, there was not a lot of public interest in autism, so they did not recieve early intervention, so I agree with the other Erin, parents play a big role no matter what the exceptionality. Parents need to be educated about their children's exceptionalities and find the best help possible, as well.

I student interned with an autistic girl in pre-k. I think it's very important to get help at an early age as well. Therapists always spend too long to make decisions about what to do sometimes. The earlier the better.

I am scared what will happen in this time of recession.

Drug Intervention

I am a college student studying to become a Speech Language Pathologist, so I will be more than likely working with some individuals with autism in the future. I found this to be very interesting! I also believe that early intervention is key! I feel the early you start intervening, the greater the the improvement may be. It's important as educators to really tackle this and to really work with the parents and educate them on getting their child the best help he/she can get.

Comments are now closed for this post.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments