Early diagnosis helps Valley toddler fight autism

PHOENIX - Brendan Schroeder started showing signs of autism when he was only five months old. Several symptoms took Brendan's mother Gina by surprise.

"He wouldn't look at anybody when they walked through the door. I felt like he couldn't hear anything," said Gina.

Gina started video taping Brendan to keep a log of his abnormal behavior.

After a few months of research, Gina suspected that Brendan had a form of autism. However; Gina was very confused as she could not find any similar cases with children at such a young age.

A developmental doctor confirmed Gina's suspicion.

"When you hear a doctor give you those words, 'your son has autism spectrum disorder.' Those three words changed our lives completely," said Gina.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average age of autism spectrum disorder diagnosis is 4 years and 5 months.  Brendan was only 13 months when he was diagnosed.

This is when Brendan's family was directed to the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.  Brendan then began the Jump Start program, a parent empowerment program that taught Gina how to work with Brandon and how to navigate the world of autism.

Gina says that thanks to the program, Brendan is steadily improving. The program's goal now is to get Brendan into kindergarten with other students his age.

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