"I had a perfectly normal baby. He hit all his developmental landmarks but after his first birthday he seemed to be sick all of the time, with infection after infection. He stopped eating and was no longer happy and playful. By 17 months he had stopped talking, interacting, or even looking at us anymore; he was in his own little world. At four years old, he had no language, was not potty trained, and was smearing (feces) on the walls. My baby had been stolen away from us."
This was the reality Lyn Redwood of the National Autism Association faced when her child was diagnosed with autism. Autism is a developmental brain disorder that affects as many as 1 in 150 children as reported by the Centers for Disease Control. Alterations in health and behavior vary widely from mild to severe, leading to their general classification as Autism Spectrum Disorders. About 10 percent of individuals with ASD develop autism secondary to a known genetic disorder. The cause of ASD is not certain; however, parents of ASD children have been playing a significant role in changing the way experts view the disorder.
"Children are like snowflakes, each one different, each one needing a different biomedical intervention," said Shelley Reynolds of Unlocking Autism. "What makes treating autism difficult is that each combination to unlock each person affected is so unique."
As a result of advocacy efforts, the U.S. Congress provided $7.5 million in appropriations directed to the Department of Defense to initiate the Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program in 2007. The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command has been administrating research funding for several specific diseases through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs since 1992.
"The Army Medical Command has a long history of focusing on mitigating the effects of specific diseases in a mission driven manner. Combat conditions have required the Army to seek out innovative research to us
Contact: Gail Whitehead
US Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs