Autism Program

WSVN — When Liam Barrett was born the redhead was like any other bubbly baby, but then something changed.Jim Barrett: "At about 2-and-a-half he dis-engaged."Liam was diagnosed with autism. His parents started him in therapy.Jim Barrett: "But after a couple years, we no longer felt like he was accomplishing anything."Liam didn't speak and they wanted him to communicate. That's when they learned about the DIR program.Jennie Trocchio: "It stands for the developmental individual differences relationship based approach."What it breaks down to is getting the child to engage with others.Jennie Trocchio: "We try to find out what makes them tick? What do they love? And we incorporate that into every program."So Jim created the Casablanca Academy in Hollywood, where children with autism get one on one attention.Jim Barrett: "It gets them engaged and enthusiastic about learning."Exercises like jumping and being swung onto a mat may just look like fun, but they also help build a sense of trust with others.Jennie Trocchio: "Because it's through those relationships that you really start to feel celebrated."This stop and go exercise gives each child a chance to be in charge. Jennie Trocchio: "They are powerful and these kids don't feel powerful a lot of the time."Twin boys Pio and Lucas are exact opposites. Both were diagnosed with autism when they were about years old. Ana Ortiz: "Everything about them is different. Even down to the school that they go to."Now 8, Lucas goes to public school but Oio needed more attention.Ana Ortiz: "We wanted him to be with other kids, to be with other peers."When they enrolled him at Casablanca, it was a perfect fit.Ana Ortiz: "He really likes coming to school. He's happy coming, he's excited."11-year-old Liam has also excelled since starting the program.Jim Barrett: "Because his mind is open he's able to learn."And his dad is certain with this model of learning and interaction, he can continue to grow and be happy.Jim Barrett: "I want him to get a job, live on his own, have a family and have a full life."Anyone can learn about the DIR program and how it works. There's a training session coming up on April 6th. FOR MORE INFORMATION:Casablanca Academy:http://www.casablancaacademy.org

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