Local disability center works to help children with autism

Easter Seals Nevada's autism services are helping local children with diagnosis and early treatment for the disorder [KSNV]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found as many as 1 in 68 children in the United States are diagnosed with autism.

Many states -- including Nevada -- are responding to the growing needs of those living with autism.

Our state reported more than 5,100 Nevadans aged 3-21 have been diagnosed with autism.

One local hero helps the families and children suffering from the disorder.

Three-year-old Dylan has come a long way. He's curious, engaging ... characteristics he didn't display a year and a half ago. Instead, you saw tantrums.

He was diagnosed with autism last January. Since then, mom Gloria Ordonez says Easter Seals Nevada helped improve his behavior. Just the other day, a boy who wouldn't say a word did for the first time.

"Dylan was coughing and I ask him, 'are you okay,' and he said 'yes' in Spanish, and that was awesome. It made me cry,"

Stories like Dylan's are what keeps Ella Philander going.

"He's looking at mom and looking at me and looking around and he's excited to walk in and to explore, instead of the same child two years ago, would have been screaming or would have been holding onto mom in sheer terror," Philander said. "That's the kind of difference that drives us and makes us do what we do."

She's the director of autism services here, playing a crucial role in delivering services to local adults and children with autism.

"I do know right now there are huge waiting lists," Philander said. "We, ourselves, have a waiting list for children and it's a problem."

Early diagnosis and early intervention can improve outcomes for a child. That's what Philander hopes to do.

"If we know if there's a particular behavior that our parents is wanting us to go by the wayside, we'll come in and focus on the behavior, so we'll do up to three hours at a time, five days a week, up to six days a week sometimes, in the family's home and we'll directly work with that child and with that parent to show how to get that behavior to stop," Philander said.

These services are given all while providing resources to empower families to give their child the support he or she needs.

"So really, we're touching one child at a time, but we're having a huge impact in each of those children's lives," Philander said. "It bubbles over in having an impact on their family's lives."

The lives of families like Dylan's, who continue to fight a disorder and its symptoms.

If you know someone deserving of being a News 3 Local Hero, nominate them on News 3's Facebook page or the News 3 website.

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